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Why wait for Canvas? PS3 upgrade points way for iPlayer on the big screen

by David Mercer | Sep 29, 2009

Lots of excitement in the press over the weekend about the availability of Canvas set-top boxes in the UK by Christmas 2010. For non-UK readers, Canvas is the BBC’s initiative to bring television over the internet to big screens, ie TV sets. The BBC Trust’s consultation on Canvas is here. The Christmas 2010 “announcement” was made by Richard Halton, the BBC’s IPTV project director. BT, ITV and (channel) Five are also partners in the project. Halton was quoted as saying that set-top boxes built to Canvas specifications would be available to UK homes by Christmas 2010. We should be careful not to read too much into any such precise prediction of events more than 12 months in advance, especially when they are made by an organisation that has little control over when they will happen. The BBC is of course the driving force behind Canvas, but as well as having to overcome the BBC Trust’s objections to the project, it also has to win the technical and marketing support of device manufacturers. The latter have been extremely frustrated at the Canvas delays and several have found other ways to get iPlayer onto TVs. As we have often said the games console is likely to be a key platform for online TV. iPlayer has been available on both the Wii and the PS3 for a year or so but only with limited capabilities and effectiveness. The BBC has now upgraded its PS3 iPlayer application and since its launch it has already become the second most popular way to watch iPlayer after Virgin Media's VOD service. According to Anthony Rose, the BBC’s Controller, Online Media Group and Vision, PS3 was catapulted to 10% of all iPlayer viewing in the week following the update. Early reports confirm that PS3 owners using a 1.5Mbps iPlayer stream are now seeing close to SDTV quality on large screen TVs. Since the PS3's price drop to £250 (€299 in rest of Europe) it is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of watching online TV from the BBC on the TV. Even though they will offer additional channels the possible arrival of Canvas set-top boxes late next year is unlikely to dent enthusiasm for the many alternatives which are sure to emerge in the meantime. Twitter: twitter.com/DavidMercer_SA Client Reading: Digital Media Devices Global Market Report Add to Technorati Favorites
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