I’m a REALLY big fan of the iPlayer but there are a few things I’d like to see added and was preparing a post called ‘things I’d like added to the iPlayer’.
But the news that a ‘Download for Media Players‘ option has been added to certain iPlayer shows trumped that and caused me to write this post instead.
The story is basically that, as long as you’re using Windows, have a Portable Device capable of playing Windows Media DRM files – then you can click a button next to an iPlayer video and download it straight away.
When its downloaded you just click play and then stop and then transfer it to your media player.
This is brilliant and something long lacking from the otherwise brilliant iPlayer service – unfortunately in its current form it’s about as much use as a turnip in a CD player.
Actually thats a lie – its useful in that it means I can download an iPlayer video without having to piss about with the stupid Download Manager and P2P (something my ISP seems to hate – my net connection grinds to a halt anytime I try to bit torrent or do any form of P2P stuff).
But in terms of transferring it to my media player – I have the same type of portable media player as about 80% of all people with a portable media player – an iPod, specifically an iPod Nano.
And iPods won’t/don’t play Windows Media Files. The reason the BBC have them as Windows Media files is because they have to contain time limited DRM (whether you agree with this or not it’s a fact that – for the iPlayer to continue to operate – DRM has to be in place).
Apple produced a DRM system of its own that now has a time limit facility – it can expire the file after a set amount of time (currently two days for rented movies).
So, in theory the BBC could also offer an iPod friendly version of these downloads. Unfortunately they can’t because Apple won’t license the iPod DRM – if they would licence it we’d be able to put the files on our iPods, iPhones and Apple TVs.
Here’s what Anthony Rose said on the BBC Internet Blog post about it “Unfortunately, Apple keeps its DRM technology close to its chest and has so far not licensed that technology to third parties.
“This means that as of today, it’s not technically possible for us to make rights-protected BBC iPlayer programmes available for download from the bbc.co.uk/iplayer website in a format compatible with Apple devices.
“That’s a major missing piece for us and a disappointment for Apple device owners, so please know that this has our full attention.”
So I think we need to start a ‘free the DRM’ campaign to try and convince Apple to let the BBC wrap their iPlayer files in a format that can be played on Apple devices.
Otherwise I’m going to consider a Zune or Walkman for my next media player – after all a new iPod WAS on my agenda and its not like iTunes (other than for podcasts) is THAT important anymore.
But I do have a question for the BBC Radio guys – why aren’t the radio shows available for portable download as well? Being able to transfer any BBC Radio Show would be a MASSIVELY useful tool – they’re not even available for download yet.
Surely wrapped in DRM you can get clearance – even if only for the speech based shows.
I know I can get some shows through podcasts but not everything – I want to be able to download (even heavily DRMd) shows like Just a Minute and the Afternoon Play to my portable device (hopefully the iPod eventually – see above) and listen like I would to a podcast – in my time, my terms and my way.