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BBC opts for MPEG-4, increases quality of iPlayer programming

by Parm Mann on 18 August 2008, 12:28

Tags: iPlayer, BBC

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Having recently upped the resolution of its hugely popular iPlayer service, the BBC has now adopted the H.264 video format and AAC+ audio as a means to provide improved quality to its viewers.

The move follows Adobe's decision to adopt H.264 in its latest version of Flash. The new codecs are currently being rolled out throughout the iPlayer service, and will later be added to media embedded on the BBC website.

Using open standard H.264 video and AAC+ audio, iPlayer will deliver an improved data rate of 800Kbps, up from the current 500Kbps available from the proprietary On2 VP6 format.

The improved quality will be welcomed by all, and will make better use of iPlayer's recently increased 640-pixel wide resolution.

Erik Huggers, the director of future media and technology at the BBC, said:

The BBC has always been a strong advocate and driver of open industry standards. Without these standards, TV and radio broadcasting would simply not function. I believe that the time has come for the BBC to start adopting open standards such as H.264 and AAC for our audio and video services on the web.

However, despite the introduction of the open-standard formats, the BBC will continue to offer content in the On2 VP6 format for users with slower machines. In addition, Microsoft's Windows Media digital rights management system will remain in place for video downloads.

Though the higher-quality content will be welcomed by viewers, it'll come as alarming news to ISPs whose networks have already felt the strain of BBC's on-demand service.

In order to take advantage of the BBC's improved iPlayer content, users can click a "play high quality" button.

Official iPlayer website:

HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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Glad to hear this, always felt that the quality was a bit pixely in places. Would be nice for them to use a load bar, rather than me having to guess if it has loaded though :P IMO, BBC iplayer is a good service and its nice to see its being improved.
Adds support for full HD streaming as well.

ISPs will not be happy!
Excellent service just got better, hopefully this will bring the picture quality to being close to the digital freeview picture, which until now has looked far superior on my setup…

IPlayer is just one of the many reasons everyone should have an HTPC ;-)
Does anyone know if they fixed the problem where if you close the download manager, the Kplayer it had running in the background ate all your bandwidth?