BBC iPlayer takes first step to ditching Flash

The BBC has struck another blow against the ailing Flash plugin platform by announcing a new HTML5 iPlayer beta trial.

While many video content providers have switched to the more modern HTML5 standard, the BBC has stuck with the creaky old Flash plugin for its immensely popular iPlayer service.

Actually, the Beeb has been using HTML5 for some time – that’s how you can view iPlayer content on your iPhone and iPad. However, the corporation admits that “until recently, we felt that the consistent experience and efficient media delivery offered by Flash outweighed the benefit of moving to HTML5 on the desktop.”

The key words there are “until recently”. The end is nigh for Flash on the BBC.

“We’re now confident we can achieve the playback quality you’d expect from the BBC without using a third-party plugin,” reads a new blog post from BBC product manager James East.

To that end, the BBC has released a new HTML5 beta trial for iPlayer on your web browser. To opt in, just head over to the HTML5 Player Beta web page and click the “Opt in to HTML5 Player” button at the top right.

If you can’t see it, you’re probably using the wrong web browser (such as OS X Safari). At present, the HTML5 Player Beta is only known to work on Chrome, Firefox 41, Opera 32, IE 11 and Edge, and iOS Safari.

SEE ALSO: BBC iPlayer app just for kids confirmed, coming 2016

The Beeb has also said that it’s moving away from the BBC Media Player app on Android, and that Android users can also try out the HTML5 beta by using the above link. It’s currently working on a new Android iPlayer app based on Google’s ExoPlayer, but the beta trial for that is being limited to 1,000 participants, so you’re probably out of luck.

Most iPlayer content should be working in HTML5 now, but the BBC does point out that some archive and late-delivered programmes aren’t yet encoded for the new MPEG-DASH streaming technology that it’s using to control the standard of playback.

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