Monday, December 17, 2007

Flash In The Pan

The good news - the BBC have finally decided to stream programmes on their iPlayer service, so you don't need to wait three hours for a half hour sitcom to download.

The bad news - bizarrely they've used Adobe Flash video and, er, it doesn't work. At all.

As I've blogged many times, Flash Video is great for three minute YouTube clips, but is problematic for longer form content (and I did install the latest Flash 9.0.115 player before viewing). However, I have seen long form content work perfectly well using the Narrowstep telvOS platform (this used progressive download instead of Flash streaming), so this would seem to be an implementation issue.

The problems I encountered included:

the picture quality is dubious
full screen does not work on either IE or Firefox
the sound is out of sync on IE
IE often crashes with the latest Flash plugin
connection was lost in the middle of programmes on every clip I tried in every browser I tried

I'm not sure if there's any DRM, although reports have promised a Flash DRM solution for some time.

The real lesson here is that there are mature and immature technologies in the internet TV marketplace - Flash is way ahead of Silverlight as a technology, just as Windows Media is way ahead of Flash Video.

The reason for this situation is that the BBC have been lambasted for using PC only technology for the iPlayer. Politics and technology always make uncomfortable bedfellows.

1 comment:

Craig said...

The US TV networks seem to use flash to stream their shows. I've different programs on different channels, and they all streamed fine -- even for hour programs. Is it because I'm using Firefox, or are they doing something special?