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Today sees the start of the BBC's online live streaming of BBC1 and BBC2, though this is something ITV has been doing for a while with its four channels.

BBC2 live streaming

I've been watching BBC2 through the iPlayer to see how well it works online, and whether the BBC does it better than ITV...


The BBC streams BBC1 and BBC2 through the iPlayer, which is excellent in terms of usability. The channel started straight away and played in decent quality without any buffering.

The video screen is already set at a decent size on the iPlayer, which makes it easier to watch. It can be expanded to full screen as well, though picture quality tends to suffer when you do this.

Most programming was available to view online, though this message will pop up when something cannot be shown due to licensing restrictions: 


Strangely, the BBC doesn't seem to be promoting this new live streaming service anywhere on its website, unless you go to the TV listings. Even the iPlayer homepage doesn't mention the availability of live TV.


As with its catch up TV service, ITV's streaming TV online doesn't match up to the iPlayer in terms of usability.

The service is at least promoted prominently on the homepage, though the video player is way too small to view any more than video clips: 

ITV video player

It can be expanded to full screen, but the quality suffers when you do this: 

ITV player full screen

The problem is that there is no in-between option here, so watching ITV online is a pretty unsatisfactory experience. 

ITV runs a 20 second pre-roll ad before each programme, which isn't too intrusive, but I found that much of the programming was unavailable online, though you have to watch the advert before you find this out, which can get annoying.

As with the two TV channel's online catch up services, ITV.com lags behind the iPlayer when it comes to usability.  

Having launched much of its online video offering first, ITV has been overtaken by the BBC in terms of viewing figures online. It would be well advised to take a look at the usability of its video player.

Related articles:
Fight club: BBC Mobile v ITV Mobile 

Graham Charlton

Published 28 November, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

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Bob Cove

"Strangely, the BBC doesn't seem to be promoting this new live streaming service anywhere on its website... Even the iPlayer homepage doesn't mention the availability of live TV".

Not so strange really - Promoting computer (only) viewing encourages non-license paying!

Bob Cove (Westcote Barton)

almost 8 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

I suppose you have a point there Bob. I know the licence fee doesn't apply to catch up TV online, but is still the case for live streaming?

almost 8 years ago


Kate Wooding

The BBC says that if you watch live streaming over the internet you still need a TV license to cover the premises you're watching from.

almost 8 years ago


Gemma Mackay

Been trying to access ITV.com all day trying to view the Black Rock Masters tennis. Tried two systems but page remains static.

Maybe I'm expecting the instant play from BBC and I'm not realising the advertising pre-roll is part of the ITV experience.

If that is the case the I am not a fan of ITV's offering.

Channel 4's offering (the software required to view) completely screwed laptop and still affect the registry.

Simply click and play please.

almost 8 years ago


John S.

I never understood ISP limits. Just have a tier structure like cell-phones and then actually use the extra money to upgrade the backbone for a better network . . . it's a no-brainer, unless of course they just want the profit :-)

over 7 years ago


live Tv

Watch Pakistani and Indian TV Channels Online. Free and paid internet TV available (Music, Entertainment, Sports and News TV Channels) Pak TV Live. best regards. http://www.livetv.pk

almost 7 years ago


Ashley Alfred

almost 7 years ago


Kevin Hidden

Limeys are crazy anyway

over 6 years ago



Wow....its really great information to all of us....Also,thats really great to hear....It seems that you put great amount of time for making this post very nice....Thanks for sharing with us....

about 6 years ago

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