When asked to name the best online TV download service in the UK, nearly 37 percent of respondents chose BBC iPlayer. This just beat off the challenge of Apple's iTunes store, which 36.2 percent of respondents voted as their favourite.
BBC iPlayer was launched in late July. It allows viewers to browse through and download for free hundreds of TV programmes hosted online. The broadcasts comprise the previous seven days of programming, as well as an extensive archive. To use BBC iPlayer, however, users need a PC running Windows Media Player 10.0 or later, Internet Explorer version 6.0 or later, and Windows XP. There's no support for Windows Vista or Apple Mac OS X.
Apple iTunes has also recently started offering TV programmes for download in the UK. iTunes offers content from several stations, including MTV, Paramount Comedy and the Disney Channel. Unlike the free BBC iPlayer, iTunes TV episodes cost £1.89. QuickTime 7.1.3 or later is required to view purchased videos, which are intended for viewing on an Apple iPod.
Initial reaction to the BBC iPlayer has been mixed at best. User reviewers on techadvisor.co.uk complained of 'poor customer service', 'bugs' and 'limited programme availability'.
In his review, one PC Advisor reader, 'Arthur', said: "I managed one download after signing on which was fairly simple, since then there has been problems with the Delivery Service Manager which in effect has meant that the system is inoperable in spite of a number of reinstallations." Another, 'Marino5549', even claimed that the BBC iPlayer had prevented Channel 4's rival download service, 4OD, from working properly.
Channel 4's service came third in the PC Advisor poll, getting nearly 21 percent of readers' votes. Five download brought up the rear. Only 6.2 percent of respondents thought that Channel 5's offering is the best online TV download service in the UK.