Ian Dixon wrote an article yesterday about a new iPlayer add-in for Media Center. It's not a bad interface if you just want BBC content (no ITV, C4, Five, Hulu or plugin support at the moment), and looking at it gave me a brainwave about how to stream BBC wmv content instead of Flash that obviously occurred to the other developer before me. Doh! TunerFreeMCE already had the ability to download BBC programs to your hard drive, and I realized that all I need to do is to pass that same download URL to media center, and it would start playing. Since I already had the code to support WMV and already had the code to get the download links, all I had to do was to wire the two together and add a preference for Flash or WMV for BBC content (Flash is probably still the best option for low bandwidth households, and is the most reliable way of playing programs).
I have now released version 3.4 with that new code in. There may be some subtle issues with combining the flash that is still required for Radio and Live TV with the WMV content, so let me know on the forums if you spot anything.
Channel 4 now have a good amount of their 4oD content on YouTube. That's a really interesting move, because it puts the content on a far more accessible and higher quality platform than their internal 4oD server. Presumably it reduces their costs, and at the same time makes the viewing experience much better for the user. The videos are full of adverts, so I assume Channel 4 still make good money out of it too.
Now the down side – you can't embed the video, so it's not as seamless as it might be to do something like bring it in to TunerFree.
And then the really bad news – Google are clamping down on people enabling access to YouTube on the TV. They have already been aggressively chasing Popcorn Hour for enabling YouTube access on the TV, and reportedly want a 7 figure licensing fee from anyone who wants to do it.
Fortunately TunerFreeMCE has a great plugin system which allows YouTube's public RSS feed to be read, and allows TunerFreeMCE to link off to YouTube to display the video. Since it just uses the public feeds and direct access to the site, it isn't breaking any YouTube rules. Click here for the plugin.