The BBC has confirmed that it will release an iPlayer app for the new Apple TV.
The little black box, which was first launched by the Apple years ago, has since fallen behind in the streaming media device race, with Google Chromecast, Roku and even Amazon’s Fire TV range all several steps ahead. The secret to their success? Apps.
Apple’s locked-down approach to its hardware and software has wooed and frustrated many, but is particularly noticeable in the TV realm, which has become increasingly competitive amid a shift from traditional linear broadcast to VOD. As part of the launch of its revamped box, Apple emphasised that it has opened up its app store to include more channels. BBC iPlayer, though, was not one of them.
The ease with which iPlayer could be added to Apple TV’s platform, though, was demonstrated earlier this year by two developers from Bournemouth – Matt Cheetham and Phillip Caudell – who used a hack event to come up with their own unofficial app.
Since then, the BBC has reversed its decision and announced that iPlayer will be added in the near future.
“Available on over 10,000 devices, BBC iPlayer is one of the biggest and best on-demand video services in the world, and has transformed how UK audiences watch programmes online,” said the BBC’s director-general Tony Hall.
“I am delighted that iPlayer will be coming to the new Apple TV in the coming months, helping to bring the BBC’s distinctive and loved content to an even wider audience.”
The move is a key one for the BBC, as it will enable its content to be potentially included in Apple’s new Siri-powered voice search, which will index multiple VOD services to find results. Previously, iPlayer was available to stream onto Apple TV boxes via Airplay, effectively casting the video from iPhone or iPads – a solution that would prevent iPlayer from being crawled by Siri.
But for Apple, the decision is even more important. BBC iPlayer is the most popular streaming service in the country, thanks to its wide range of content and the fact that it’s free. Indeed, even NOW TV’s own branded box, which also limits available apps to those approved by Sky, has BBC iPlayer: as a result, the £15 budget option offers all of the major Freeview catch-up services, something that has contributed to its success. Will iPlayer be the answer to Apple TV catching up with its contenders? No, but it will certainly give the box some stronger legs.
The new Apple TV is available to buy now in the UK. We’ll have a review of it soon.
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