BBC iPlayer and Flash Player, 3 years of love story

In the late December 2007 BBC released the Flash based iPlayer creating the concept of  “catch-up TV” and starting one of the most important Success Story in video distribution over the Internet. The service has had a very rapid adoption rate and is now incredibly popular in UK with over 140 million video requests recorded in November 2010.  Being a long format video site, the total amount of streamed video is very high: approximately 25 millions hrs/month. This make iPlayer one of the top “video streaming source” in the world. For example Yahoo! and VEVO, which are the second and third video sites in U.S. for number of users, deliver “only” around 15 millions of hours / month.

The success of the service can be attributed to the very fluid user experience and good video quality. The use of Flash Player has been the main catalyst of this process and even now that the iPlayer is available on multiple devices and platforms the desktop version is still the most used. Only 4% of video are consumed on mobile devices, 7% on PS3 and Wii (Both using Flash), 16% is consumed on Virgin TV STB and the remaining 73% on a PC desktop. Part of the mobile traffic is related to the Android versione of the iPlayer which is Flash Based too.

Complessively more than 80% of the video streaming is consumed using the Flash Player version of iPlayer.  This percentage is similar to the market share of Flash for Internet video delivery at a worldwide level. Today BBC is using features that only Adobe Flash can offer: streaming protection, dynamic buffering, bitrate switching, DRM protected download (with Adobe Access and AIR client), and very high market penetration (near 100% for desktops plus Android, PS3 and Wii). So it’s not a mistery why the service has become so popular. But you know that BBC is not alone because all the TOP 10 video sites offer video using Flash as the main infrastructure.

To know more statistics about the iPlayer, read the last report published by BBC.


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