Friday, April 14, 2006

Watching TV on your PC?

A lot of people now have PC tuner cards, and an increasing number at using PVR software to replace their aging video recorders. Following on from the earlier posting about watching live TV on your mobile phone, I bring news from the BBC who trialled iMP with 5,000 broadband users between November and February.

Their Integrated Media Player offered a catch-up service, downloading TV and radio programmes to the user’s PC. But with the restriction that the programmes must be downloaded and watched within seven days of transmission (due to the rights deal struck with Pact, the UK association that represents the commercial interests of independent media companies), enforced by DRM.

The stringent seven day restriction may explain why the results show that over a three month period, the 5,000 trialists only downloaded 150,000 programmes - that’s about 30 each, or one every three days. Not a lot.

Extending the seven day window may not be possible – though the BBC’s Ashley Highfield is reported to be investigating an adjustment to keep the seven day download limit, but then allow it to be kept until watched once.

With the trial over, the next step is the MyBBCPlayer which combines the download elements of iMP with streaming. But it must pass the BBC Governorspublic value test before the public will see it.

And if you want to hear the view of someone in the media industry who is actually producing mobile content, listen to Peter Bazalgette on the 7 April edition of MediaGuardian’s podcast (podcast feed, iTunes link) where he explains why TV on mobile phones is the next big thing.

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