BBC iPlayer launches on Virgin MediaPicture quality is good and the service works well

03 May 2008

A screenshot of the BBC iplayer

New iPlayer service from the BBC

The BBC has launched its TV-on-demand service on Virgin Media, bringing its popular iPlayer to Virgin Media’s 3.5 million cable TV subscribers. 

BBC iPlayer allows viewers to catch up on BBC programmes from the previous seven days at no extra cost, with TV programmes appearing both in full screen and at full quality, according to Virgin Media.

The service, which launched last Christmas, initially delivered BBC programmes to computers using a Web browser, and chalked up 3.5 million programmes viewed on-demand or downloaded within its first fortnight. 

The BBC has since made its iPlayer available for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, and the Nintendo Wii games console. 

Nintendo Wii

It says that over 42 million programmes have been viewed using iPlayer since its launch, and the move to deliver it to Virgin Media’s customers is the first time the service is available via TV.

Virgin Media says the iPlayer service, which is accessed by pressing the remote control’s red button on any BBC channel, will allow its subscribers to view over 350 hours of TV programmes for free, including Doctor Who, Eastenders, Top Gear and The Apprentice. 

Viewers will be able to watch the shows instantly with no downloading, although shows can't be stored for later viewing.

No storage

Virgin Media says it plans to fully integrate iPlayer into its electronic programming guide by the middle of the year, and that BBC radio will be added as the service develops.

'We’ve tried the BBC iPlayer on Virgin Media, and it’s an impressive start to the on-demand service,' says Which? technology editor Matthew Bath. 

'We found that the picture quality is on a par with normal broadcasts, and that programmes are delivered without delay. However, there was some slow-down when navigating the programming menu, but not enough to put consumers off.'