Today sees the launch of the iPlayer to another new platform. This time it makes its way direct to TV via the Virgin Media cable service. 3.5 million Virgin Media customers will be able to view the last 7 days of BBC content on iPlayer via their set top box by pressing the red button from any BBC channel. Access via the EPG (the on screen programme guide) is due later this summer
The iPlayer service on Virgin Media takes advantage of Virgin's video on demand service to provide the content using the television bandwidth rather than utilising the broadband side. This is a big advantage to viewers as it won't get affected by slow downs due to congestion, and also won't affect your Virgin traffic shaping if you use it too much. One other clear advantage is the higher quality MPEG2 stream used.
Where the iPlayer will appear next, is not certain, but it is likely more television services such as BT Vision and Tiscali TV will be looking to incorporate it. Sky users may not be so lucky following criticism last week of the iPlayer by James Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation in Europe, owners of BSkyB. Murdoch accused the iPlayer of crowding out competition and innovation. Others however may see it as the next evolution of on-demand television, something that could hit traditional pay-for TV services as Sky quite hard financially if the model of streaming television grows.