BBCs’ Most Favoured Devices

Here’s a list of some of the BBCs’ most favoured devices for internet TV (iTV?), for which the BBC will open the gate to its non-flash, HTML5 based version of iPlayer:

  • Sony PS3
  • Sony BluDisc
  • Cello TV
  • Apple iPad
  • (soon) Selected Windows CE devices

Notable devices/platforms not on this list:

  • Google Android
  • And all other HTML5 compliant devices

If you own such a device, then tough for you – even though the HTML5 iPlayer would work fine on such devices if it weren’t for the fact that the BBC have gone out of their way to bar those devices from it! Particularly tough for you if your device does not support Flash (e.g. Android). Best of all, the BBC straight-facedly claim:

“But we don’t back any one technical horse. We care about making our services available as widely as possible: for our audiences.”

This is highly misleading. For this goal clearly is utterly subservient to the BBCs’ greater goal of tightly controlling access to iPlayer, and denying iPlayer as much as possible to platforms which the BBC feels it can not control, as we know from FOI requests – referred to as “authentication” there, generally.  This has been the case ever since the BBC introduced a HTML+H.264 standards based iPlayer for the Apple iPhone, and then went out of its way to implement technical measure after technical measure to block this interface to other, unapproved platforms.

As per a previous blog post, it is a very unhealthy situation for the BBC to be able to pick & choose the “winners” according to its whims.


  1. Paul Jakma said

    See also this comment of mine on the BBC internet blog (if you’re really bored, go through my comment history).

  2. dahamsta said

    Um, how will they stop someone on any device of their choosing pretending to be one of their favoured devices? Will the content only be released to signed apps or summat?


  3. Paul Jakma said


    They rely on things like detecting browser specific quirks in the browser (e.g. in device specific variables the javascript engine might make available).

  4. dahamsta said

    Neah, wouldn’t be hard for someone determined to avoid Paul. Most people aren’t that determined, but hey, there’s an app for everything these days…

    (Of course Apple’s walled garden will help them here. If they decide that’s the way they want to do things.)

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BBC on blogs, Paul Jakma. Paul Jakma said: Blog entry, BBCs' Most Favoured Devices: #bbc #iplayer […]

  6. Paul Jakma said

    Ok, it looks like the way the BBC are doing it is via SSL client certificates. Seems they require the device to present one, and it seems the BBC will accept certs signed by BBC inhouse CAs, Apple iPhone Device CA, “ADB Root CA” and a Sony “Sony LFX Project BIVL – Root CA”.

  7. dahamsta said

    Makes sense!

  8. […] my thinking, the BBCs’ current ondemand strategy is anti-competitive and hence at odds with its public service remit. To the extent my previous concerns were about the […]

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