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iPlayer to launch on iPhone and iTouch

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iPlayer to launch on iPhone and iTouch
The BBC will launch a version of its iPlayer for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch in coming weeks, it revealed today.

Anthony Rose, head of digital media technology, described the development as a major change for portable television.

Rose and Ashley Highfield, director of future media and technology, made the announcement as they released the latest usage figures for iPlayer, which officially launched at Christmas, and bbc.co.uk.

There were more than 11m streams and downloads from more than 2.2m different users during January. It pushed the average UK visitors to bbc.co.uk every week to 20m, which was up 29% on last year and, Highfield said, could make it one of the top two websites in the country.

"We've seen a good and sustained growth in the number of programmes being watched which last week reached over 500,000 in one day," he added.

bbc.co.uk has traditionally trailed Google and MSN in website visits. "This we believe will maybe take us up to the next slot," said Highfield.

Other iPlayer developments will include:
  • New branded highlights channels on Yahoo, Blinx and MSN, linking back to the iPlayer.
  • Redesigned service front page from today to feature most popular and recent show lists.
  • On Virgin Media next month.
  • High definition programmes "in the plan for this year".
  • Looking at "bookmarking" system where shows could be set to download automatically immediately after they air.
  • The BBC Trust is considering if and how to link the public service iPlayer with Project Kangaroo, the under-development commercial video on demand service.
The iPlayer will be available on the iPhone and Touch in "the next few weeks". Rose said of the development: "It will be the first of a transformation in people streaming long-form content onto a portable device."

It will only work through wifi and is possible because of the devices' good web support. Rose said the BBC would decide whether to extend to other mobiles depending on their platforms and reach.

Highfield said there was potential to extend the iPlayer to pay-TV platforms other than Virgin. However, the BBC will insist all iPlayer shows are taken, not just a selection, and that they are within a BBC-branded environment.

He also said that, despite the huge demand for video caused by the iPlayer, it had caused no problems for bandwidth and infrastructure: "This is something that's really important to us. We had numerous conversations with the ISPs about how to make sure the audience got a good experience.

"They have gone on record saying there is plenty of capacity and our impact is negligible."

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