BBC iPlayer Beta Launches Today | Service Criticised Over Reliability and Late Arrival

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The iPlayer, the BBC’s new online TV service, launched last Friday offering users the chance to download and watch a selection of the channel’s most popular shows from the previous seven days.

For the corporation’s director general, Mark Thompson, the launch of iPlayer is as big a milestone as the arrival of color TV, but others are criticizing its reliability and late emergence into a crowded marketplace.

Screen Digest Analyst, Arash Amel, told BBC News that in the two weeks he had been testing the service in a closed beta environment he had come across “technical fault after technical fault.

The iPlayer has already caused controversy amongst open source campaigners upset that the service will only be compatible with the PC’s Microsoft Windows XP operating system.

The application will allow access to a small selection of BBC TV Shows for seven days after they are broadcast. It then allows users to save shows for up to 30 days after they are first broadcast. With such restrictions it is argued that consumers are better off using a DVR.

The iPlayer will be facing competition from similar ventures from rival UK stations. This comes in the form of Channel 4’s 4oD and ITV’s summer launch of ITV broadband.

The BBC iPlayer will remain in open beta testing throughout the summer, with a full launch proposed for the autumn. So often a pioneer in broadcasting, but has the BBC missed the boat with its first venture into full program downloads?

[Via BBC News]