We’ve seen the occasional preview show hit the net, but we’re still waiting for any substantial content from the BBC and ITV to go online. Well, now it’s here, but only for a select few.
The BBC and ITV have teamed up in a "multicasting" trial to broadcast their main channels over the internet. Multicasting means feeding the pictures to ISPs, who then redistribute to their customers – in effect, sharing the loads with the ISPs. In the six-month pilot, channels will be available to a group of eight providers, including Plusnet, Cable & Wireless and Janet.The BBC is multicasting its four main channels plus BBC News 24 and 10 national radio stations.
ITV is making ITV1, 2, 3 and 4 available in all areas, while the pilot service in Brighton and Hastings will also get ITV Local. Around 4,000 will be recruited to report on technical issues and assess how the service affects their viewing habits.
If you want to receive the channels, you’ll need a broadband connection and the latest version of a media player to access the service. The media player sends out a high-quality signal that many users tune into, rather than giving each user an individual stream.