Virgin Media offers iPlayer via TV

May 1, 2008 // 9:22 a.m.

Tags: #bbc #iplayer #video-on-demand #virgin-media

If you're a fan of the BBC's iPlayer service but would prefer not to use peer-to-peer software and aren't exactly enamoured with the low-quality Flash streams available, then you might want to take a look at Virgin Media.

The cable TV company previously known as Telewest Blueyonder announced yesterday that it has teamed up with everyone's favourite public service broadcaster to offer the timeshifted iPlayer content via their own video-on-demand service free of charge.

The service, which went live yesterday, is available to all Virgin Media subscribers by pressing the red button while on any BBC channel. The cable company has stated that proper integration with the electronic programme guide is “due this summer.”

The CEO of Content at Virgin Media – now there's a job title – Malcolm Wall said yesterday that the company is “delighted to be the first TV platform in the UK to offer our customers BBC iPlayer as part of our on-demand service,” and attributed the success of the BBC's project to “the desire TV viewers have for viewing quality programmes at a time that suits them.

While the company hasn't quantified its statement proclaiming the service as “full quality” - i.e. whether they mean 'the same quality as the normal iPlayer application' or 'the same quality as originally broadcast' – it's unlikely that the programmes will have suffered any more degradation than they already do via the peer-to-peer iPlayer service.

Its interesting to see the iPlayer technology – which was originally a way to get TV out of the living room and on to people's computers – return to its TV-based roots. Ashley Highfield, the Director of Future Media and Technology at the Beeb, says that his company has “always envisaged BBC iPlayer on a TV platform and in the living room”, and claims the partnership with Virgin Media “takes us a step closer to transforming the way our audiences watch TV.

Which, now that the iPlayer is rapidly becoming just another on-demand service the likes of which Virgin Media – and Telewest Blueyonder before it – have been offering for quite a few years now, is perhaps overstating things just a tad.

Any Virgin Media subscribers here noticed the new content available, or are you still sticking with downloading your time-shifted content via your PC? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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