By Tim Caynes on Dec 31, 2008
Following the rampant success of the BBC iPlayer, ITV has done what it does best, and nicked it. Ok, so the implementation is different, as are the system requirements, oh, and the reach, ah, and the general niceness of it, but it's is pretty much the same thingy that allows you to catch up (their call to action) on the fabulous ITV franchise programmes you may have inadvertently decided you didn't want to watch in the first place.
What I like most of all about this little gem of interactivity, however, is the name. Inoffensive, to the point, and generally following the trend of at least 3 years ago to start everything with an 'i'. Except this little 'i' isn't the mactard freeform freeload bangwagonesque all-seeing 'i', it's the BBCi. The BBCi brand, label, bucket, whatever, was around for many years as a catch-all bitriquadquin-media expression of anything vaguely digital. Stands to reason that when they finally delivered their TV-ondemandonlineovertheweb player that it would fall under that broad BBCi category of products, even though they don't really call it that anymore. So, why not just stick the 'i' at the front? Viola!. iPlayer. Nothing to do with fruit. So when ITV finally scraped enough funds together to bake a TV-ondemand cake, it's no wonder they want to leverage a bit of the success that the BBC iPlayer enjoys. So let's maybe start it with an 'i'. But wait. We're ITV. We start with an 'i' anyway. Hang on, itvPlayer! Bingo!
Not to suggest that it's a little like cybersquatting a domain typo, but the similarities are striking. Take a little look at the branding around ITV Player and the BBC iPlayer and you get the picture. Even down to the little pointy triangle video play device in the logo. 'But everybody uses that'. Oh, ok. Of course, the presentation and user experience for each product are the usual worlds apart, but when it comes down to it, the products are pretty much the same online. What used to be the crucial advantage of what used to be called not the itvPlayer but something else entirely was that you could watch ITV programmes near-live, which I spouted some eulogy about a while back. That was clearly a huge competitive edge, like a virtual sabatier to the heart of copyrighted 7-day backlog of the BBC. Not any more though. I mean, you can't just watch anything live. And they make you work hard to find it. In fact, all I can watch right now is a live repeat of the UK pre-buget report statement on BBC parliament, but, they do now do live TV online. You still need to pony up for your TV license to actually legally watch it, but I tell you, to get the Scottish Parliament from the 26 November on a programme originally broadcast on 21st December live on my desktop via a repeat on the BBC Parliament channel on 31st December is some thrill indeed. Better than fireworks.
Happy new year.
Listening Post: M83: Graveyard Girl