BBC Moves Forward With Online Archive, iPlayer

    April 18, 2007

It’s only for a six-month trial period, and it involves just 20,000 people in the UK, but something important has transpired – part of the BBC archive went online.  And if everything goes well, we can look for all of that audio and video to become much more widely available.

In fact, it appears that the BBC is intent on making everything go well; the company has been focused on IPTV for quite some time, as this old Ars Technica article proves.  Also, in August of 2006, Ashley Highfield, head of the BBC’s Future Media, said, “We’ve got one of the world’s largest archives, if not the largest archive . . . .  We ought to liberate it and make it available, how, when, and where our audience would like to consume it.”

Today, the British Broadcasting Corporation described its new trial as a step towards that goal: “The pilot is part of the BBC’s plans to eventually offer more than a million hours of TV and radio from its archive.”

And Ashley Highfield again spoke on the subject.  “It will test what old programmes people really want to see,” he said, “from Man Alive to The Liver Birds, how they want to see them – full length or clip compilations, and when they want them – in ‘lean-forward’ exploratory mode similar to web surfing, or as a scheduled experience more akin to TV viewing.”

There was also news from the BBC relating to that sort of “TV viewing” – the corporation intends to make its much-anticipated iPlayer service (“offering catch-up TV via the web and cable TV”) compatible with Apple computers.

With all these UK-specific developments, it’s not a bad time to be a Brit.