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4 Ways BBC iPlayer Changed TV Viewing

The BBC, with its iPlayer video on demand service, has single-handedly managed to change the way that we view television in just a couple of years.

With more than five million unique weekly users - or roughly 8 percent of the UK population, it is by far the most popular of its category - VoD services from mainstream content broadcasters.

Here are four ways it changed the way we, British, interact and consume televised content on an everyday basis.

(1) Viewers are now no longer constrained by the TV guide. They can now consume content when they want to. The fact that in November, BBC programmes were streamed more than 88 million times - that's roughly 2.9 million every day - shows that iPlayer has now become an integral part of some people's lives.

(2) No longer do we need to be in front of our television to watch TV programmes. The fact that iPlayer is first and foremost a web-based service means that it can be accessed everywhere. People watch streamed programmes on their laptops in their beds or as downloads on their mobile phone in the trains.

(3) It compelled competitors to come up with similar concepts or faced being made obsolete. The iPlayer is possibly the single reason why ITV, Channel 4, Five and Sky have come up with their own version of BBC's video on demand service.

Some, like Sky, are reluctant to do so because they do not derive any financial advantages from doing so. Indeed, it is likely that all broadcasters are actually losing (or not making that much money) from their VoD services.

(4) The iPlayer made being platform agnostic cool. The corporation has actively seeked to expand the iPlayer platform to as many environments as possible.

From its PC roots, it is now present on a dozen or so platforms including the iPhone, the Nintendo Wii, the PS3 and Virgin Media. What's more, it will almost certainly be the framework, the foundation on which Project Canvas will be built.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.