BBC kick starts online video delivery with iPlayer Live Restart

Joseph O'Halloran ©RapidTVNews | 20-06-2012

In a major evolution for its whole online video delivery, especially to connected devices, the BBC has upgraded the iPlayer over the top (OTT) online video service, with Live Restart.
Said to be a first for the UK, 'Live Restart' will enable viewers to rewind and restart live TV on the iPlayer without waiting for the programme to end. Moreover, the BBC notes that unlike with a typical PVR, there is no need to have previously been watching or recording the show at interest. With one click, viewers can either restart the programme that they are currently watching, or scroll back to watch programmes from the previous two hours.
Instead of using a point-to-point streaming protocol such as RTMP as the corporation has done previously , the new method breaks up H.264 video into chunks and delivers them as HTTP packets in much the same way as text rich web pages are delivered.
The technology underpinning the new functionality is part of a wider strategic move by the BBC to embrace HTTP chunked streaming for delivering online video, seen as crucial in a year when it will be streaming more live video to more people than ever before with the Euro 2012 football championships, Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend, Wimbledon and the London 2012 Olympics.
Explained Henry Webster BBC Executive Product Manager in Media Services: “There are a number of reasons why we have taken this approach; firstly it allows us to scale our video operation to a much greater extent than we have been able to before. We already use content delivery networks (CDNs) to help us with video delivery, but a move to HTTP streaming means that instead of relying on their capacity to stream video from specialist video servers, we are now able to use their cheaper and more abundant HTTP serving capacity. The increased capacity that we can realise this way means that we are more likely to be able to support the ever growing audiences that are turning to their IP connected devices to watch TV.

“The improvement in distribution will also allow us to make quality improvements across the board. The use of HTTP chunked streaming has enabled us to significantly improve the video experience by utilising advancements in adaptive bitrate playback. This means that regardless of the bandwidth available to you locally you should get a largely uninterrupted video experience offering the very best quality video your connection can support.”