Practical Technology

for practical people.

Brit TV with Apple TV?


One of the reasons why I’m a fan of the Apple TV is that it lets me watch my favorite BBC shows such as Dr. Who, Life on Mars, and Torchwood. Well, eventually I can watch them on my Apple TV, because first I had to find them on the Web, then translate them into an Apple TV-friendly format and then I can finally watch them.

In short, it’s a pain. Yes, there is BBC America, but it’s always at least a year behind the UK schedule.

Now, it looks like the BBC may, just may, be enabling us to watch BBC shows on demand on our Apple TV using its iPlayer service.

IPlayer, for those of you who don’t it, is a service provided by the BBC to let home users in the UK download and/or stream recent television shows to their computer. In the beginning it was only playable on Windows systems. You can imagine how well that went over with Linux and Mac users.

Now, if you want to download a show, you’re still stuck with Windows XP or Vista, but you can stream on any PC with an up-to-date copy of Adobe Flash. These days that means all the major desktop operating systems.

Here’s where things get interesting. The BBC has announced that it will try to make it possible for users anywhere to watch and download its British television shows. The question remains, of course, how do you do that?

Well, one way, according to Ashley Highfield, the BBC’s Director of Future Media And Technology in his official blog would be to “look to getting BBC iPlayer onto this platform [Apple TV] too, as we should be able to use the rental functionality to allow our programmes to be downloaded, free, but retained for a time window, and then erased, as our rightsholders currently insist.

Highfield went on to write that, “Working with, rather than against, the existing set-up in the typical home is probably the quickest route to mass market adoption of IP-delivered TV.” And, he finds, in this context, that the re-launched Apple TV “is encouraging.”

So, I’m crossing my fingers that sometime in the coming year, I’ll be able to ‘tune’ into the BBC from my Apple TV. I know I’m not the only Anglophile TV watcher in the States and, hopefully, there are enough of us that the BBC and Apple will partner up to make this happen.

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