updated 10:20 am EST, Thu January 17, 2008
BBC iPlayer for Apple TV
The BBC is strongly considering offering its iPlayer web video service through the revamped Apple TV, says the company's technology director Ashley Highfield in his Internet blog. Apple's shift from purchase-only videos to a rental model would allow the British network to mimic the functions of the website while providing a more comfortable TV environment, he says. While the shows could still be free to watch, the Apple TV's system would avoid copyright issues by automatically clearing episodes after their viewing period is up, a feature that show producers currently "insist" upon for the website.
Highfield does not say whether the BBC has been in talks with Apple but notes that iPlayer is already enroute to digital set-top boxes such as Virgin's cable service in the spring. The chief obstacle to the BBC accepting a solution is whether it can be simple enough that "my mum can install," the director says. An alternative but longer-term step may be Internet-ready TVs themselves, such as the Panasonic Viera PZ850 series.
An Apple TV solution would require a special exception from Apple, whose rental model for iTunes movies currently demands a small fee and gives viewers up to 30 days to begin watching content and 24 hours to finish any title once it has been started, though the title can be re-rented at any point in the future. iPlayer typically offers shows for less than 30 days before they are removed permanently from the viewing list but allows unlimited viewings of those shows as long as they remain accessible from the website.