BBC bring improved iPlayer to the Wii

November 23rd, 2009 Tags: , , , ,

iPlayer on Wii

Having launched support for the Wii earlier this year (using the browser and Flash support), last week BBC went live with an improved iPlayer solution using their own embedded code and are now featured as their own channel within the Wii Menu.

To get the new menu, head to the Wii Shop, and you should find the new BBC iPlayer Channel available in the Wii Shop for 0 points (ie free).  However, you may find you need to apply a Wii System Update first (if this is needed, you’ll be notified as you enter the Wii Shop Channel).

Once it’s all downloaded, it runs smoothly, although as with the PC client, the streaming will be dependent on the bandwidth your broadband has; and the BBC have released some interesting figures about bandwidth requirements…

As the Wii cannot handle a very high frame rate, the Wii iPlayer client “only” needs around 700Kb/sec (using the H.264 codec), and the BBC have said that any higher resolution or data rate would cause the CPU to struggle and frames would be lost.  Although the Wii obviously can’t support HD, this does mean that HD content is not available, only SD.

The BBC also confirmed that the normal PC client uses roughly 1,500Kbit/sec for SD content, and around 3,200Kbit/sec for HD.  What do these figures mean; well, for people like us stuck out in the countryside on a 512Kbit/sec ADSL line, even the Wii iPlayer client will struggle from time to time, and needs to stop and buffer the data for a while, but it shouldn’t be as bad as the PC client.

There’s no download option (unlike the PC or mobile client) so it’s streaming only.

However, the nice feature of this improved Wii client is that it does give access to the BBC iPlayer content on your TV without needing a PC plugged into the TV, although there are some nice fanless options out there for those who do want to do this (including a device we hope to cover soon here on UK Gadgeteer).

Screenshot of iPlayer on the Wii courtesy of BBC.


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