A new upgrade to the BBC’s iPlayer promises to cut the latency of live streams by 20 seconds, meaning events such as major sporting events watched live through the streaming service will be closer in sync to their TV broadcast.
The BBC includes a delay in all of its live streams to ensure viewers enjoy a “reliable, stable, uninterrupted viewing experience”, but this means those watching through iPlayer can be between 80-120 seconds behind those watching via more traditional methods.
As a result, major moments such as goals can be spoiled by the arrival of text alerts.
The newly deployed upgrade reduces this lag by 20 seconds, meaning iPlayer viewers will typically be just 60 seconds behind their broadcast counterparts.
In a blog post announcing the change, BBC Head of Product, Media Services, Henry Webster says:
“In the coming months we’ll be looking at further improvements we can make to our existing infrastructure, as well as working with our colleagues at BBC R&D on implementing additional improvements have the potential to bring streaming latency much closer to that of TV broadcast.”
It’s also been announced that on-demand programmes will be available on iPlayerjust a few minutes after they end on broadcast channels.
In his post, Webster explains:
“Previously, there was a significant delay before a programme became available after it was broadcast. This was because it takes time for us to process programmes into a high quality on demand video after they’ve been broadcast. The longer the programme, the longer it takes to process – and being long programmes, both Strictly and MOTD could leave viewers waiting for quite a while before being able to watch them on demand.
“What we’ve done now is sped this up significantly, by introducing what we’ve called ‘pseudo VOD’. Rather than processing the whole programme once it’s finished, this pseudo VOD system reuses the live segments of video you see when you’re watching live on iPlayer to create a temporary on demand video instead, which we can publish as soon as the programme ends. This plugs the gap, while we work on processing the high quality on demand video as we did before, and once this is ready replace the temporary video.”