PS3 and UK Catchup TV Services

It’s been a week now since the official PS3-optimised BBC iPlayer went live and I pulled the plug on the unofficial (it’s still available for but no-longer maintained.) As a few sites(!) are reporting, PS3 users are now accounting for around 10% of everyone using the iPlayer over the Internet (i.e. excluding Virgin’s service on their STB), pushing the PS3 into 2nd place, behind the PC (70%) and ahead of Macs (8.5%). This seems to indicate a hunger out there for an easy way to watch catchup services on a TV, without the hassle of connecting your PC or Mac up.

So, what’s the current state of play in general for catching up on missed TV using a PS3 in the UK?

  • BBC iPlayer
    Interface works. Video playback works.
    200px-bbc_iplayer_logoPS3 officially supported with PS3-specific features. All programmes stream at 1500Kbps down to 480Kbps for those with slower Internet connections.
  • ITV Player
    Interface works. Video does not work.
    200px-ITV_Player_logoUses Microsoft Silverlight for video playback which the PS3 does not support. Apart from that the web interface does work in most places, although the heavy use of Flash for navigation causes a few problems.
  • STV Player
    Interface does not work. Video playback works.
    logo.stvplayer.betaITV’s less-known Scottish cousin. Contains the majority of ITV’s content, but uses Flash instead of Silverlight. Flash player fails to load on programme pages, but PS3 can play their content with a workaround. A few framerate problems on full-screen playback.
  • 4oD
    Interface does not work. Videos partially work.
    4odThe web-interface does not work in the PS3 browser (spectacularly). With a workaround to get the Flash player visible, audio works on all programmes and adverts, however video does not appear apart from the 4oD ident and a few of the adverts.
  • Demand Five
    demand-five-logoInterface works. Video playback works.
    The normal web interface works but is not suited to use with the PS3 controller, however full-screen playback is smooth.
  • Sky Player
    sky_logoInterface works. Video does not work.
    Uses Microsoft Silverlight for video playback which the PS3 does not support. Despite that the actual web interface works pretty well in the PS3 browser.

The BBC is clearly well ahead of the others here, but Five’s offering is surprisingly good. STV could fix their site with some small tweaks to allow the Flash player to load correctly, but the others have far more work to do if they wish to take advantage of all those PS3 users hungry for easy-to-access TV content.

Anyway, the situation in general highlights problems both broadcasters and hardware platform owners currently have; in a world of standards, there’s very little standard across both the catchup content from the broadcasters and the environments provided by each device. In a case of “somebody else’s problem” broadcasters need to produce and distribute a large number of different encodes to cover different devices as well as produce interfaces bespoke to (or specifically optimised for) each device they wish to support. Hardware platform owners also face similar problems; specific support for each broadcaster has to be added and where 3rd-party licensed technology is used, the appropriate and often costly licenses obtained.

We can only hope that cross-broadcaster projects and standards (such as the ill-fated Project Kangaroo and the pending Project Canvas) get the green-light and are eventually widely adopted.

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    15 Responses to “PS3 and UK Catchup TV Services”

    • What about UPlayer ( ITV’s Northern Ireland cousin :)

    • Dave couldn’t you try Uplayer it don’t.

    • Yeah, unfortunately it uses Silverlight – I guess they’re just piggybacking on top of the normal ITV catchup service.

    • What was the work around you use to get some video on 4oD? I’m sure I got a stream working once, but then the design got changed and I can’t navigate the page at all.

    • hey can u let me know what the work around is for stv player on ps3

    • The workarounds for 4oD and STV aren’t simple. It requires hosting the flash player of each in a PS3-compatable webpage, i.e. not yet practical for everyday use.

    • Dude, what you did with the Unofficial PS3 iPlayer was superb, I just wish it still worked as for a brief while until you pulled the plug BBC HD worked brilliantly!

      Can you tell us when we will see HD BBC back on our PS3?! please

    • Itv player and all the other idiots that went with MS silver light better hurry up and make there channels available on the PS3…

      Its what all PS3 users want…..

      It makes sense…..

      PS3 RULES… as a DLNA UPNP player, gaming machine, freeview box, freeview recorder, a reasoanble internet browser (thats what im useing as i type this) and BBC iplayer / internet catch up streamer.

      All it needs now is a SKYPE plugin and a online gaming community like the 360’s then we can discard out 360 consoles for good!!!!!

    • I can’t log into my demand five acount on PS3. Any ideas why?

    • So, are you going to make a version of the other iplayers like you did with BBC? It was fantastic and BBC clearly realised that they needed to catch up with your work!! Is there no way of stealing the other players and writing new script for them?
      Thanks for ps3iplayer by the way!

    • Excellent article, thank you very much for providing such clear information all in one place.

    • iiw sh i had read this before tearing my hair out

    • love the bbc i player but could really do with the 4 od to would go down really well only get a few pics on main page then when i press play just get loads of letters and numbers is anything going to happen with this ??? cheers

    • we want all uk tv on the ps3, the ps3 is the new best way to see replay tv miles better than using pc, itv is missing out not supporting the ps3

    • works if there any southpark fans reading

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