news The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has modified its highly popular iview streaming video iPad app so that it will function on Apple iPhones, as well as unlocking the streaming ability for the app on 3G networks and revealing that it also has a separate version in the works for Google’s rival Android platform.
The ABC’s iview app is one of the most popular video streaming applications in Australia and has previously been available for Apple’s iPad platform, as well as via the ABC’s website. However, the app has not been available for the Apple iPhone, Android or Windows Phone 7 platforms, and the ABC had disabled the streaming functionality when no Wi-Fi connection was present, to avoid users receiving large excess data usage bills from their mobile telecommunications provider.
In a statement released this morning, the ABC said it had updated the existing iPad app, making it a ‘universal’ iOS app that could now run on iPhone and iPod Touch. In addition, it has unlocked streaming over 3G networks (with a few warning labels built in) and added a number of other features, such as adaptive streaming video quality that adapts to a user’s available bandwidth and network conditions, as well as support for Apple’s AirPlay standard which allows mobile devices to stream content to Apple’s TV device. Synching has also been enabled, so that users will be able to start watching a program on one device and then resume watching it on another device at the point where they had left off.
The broadcaster added that it understands the demand for an Android iview app, and was working towards achieving official Android support following “a planned redevelopment of iview in HTML5”. “We are approaching wider Android availability in this way for a few important, strategic reasons – namely it makes it easier for us to target a greater number of Android devices and screen sizes and it it makes sense in terms of streamlining the technical effort and cost for new developments for the multiple android devises,” the ABC said.
“We hope to overcome the over-riding constraint, which has been the cost to develop, technical effort and resource required to support Android, given its complex eco-system, within the limitations of the small but dedicated iview team. Something to remember is that the fact that iview is already available to many Android users via the Flash website version, though we acknowledge and appreciate that this isn’t perfect.”
In a statement, ABC TV’s Controller of Multiplatform, Arul Baskaran, said: “At the ABC, our focus is always on creating and curating quality programs and delivery methods that are in tune with the media habits of contemporary Australia. As a public broadcaster we are committed to making our content easily accessible on multiple platforms, and by extending ABC iview to iPhone, with watching over Wi-Fi and 3G, we’re reaching millions of Australians on millions of mobile devices.”
Director of ABC TV, Kim Dalton, said: “ABC TV has consistently been the leading Australian broadcaster, delivering choice and convenience to our audiences. This app is a landmark step in making TV content accessible to Australians on mobile platforms, and complements ABC TV’s strategy to make our content accessible at home on your TV or PC, or on the go via your tablet or phone. We’ve effectively put TV in your pocket.”
The organisation also provided a number of statistics associated with users’ online viewing habits. For example, according to research by Ericsson, ABC iview is the second top source for downloaded/streamed video content in Australia, and according to Nielsen, the platform is by far the most popular catch-up TV service in Australia.
By the end of 2008, ABC iview had a monthly average of 129,000 visitors and 255,000 visits, the broadcaster said. In 2010 average visitors exceeded half a million, and visits were up to 2 million on average per month. In 2011, there were 873,000 average visitors and 2.9 million average visits.
“October 2011 recorded the highest ever number of visits and visitors, with 3.6 million visits to the ABC iview website,” it added. “In 2012, ABC iview growth has continued, with average monthly visits up to 3.3 million year to date (an increase of 22% year on year) and monthly visitors increasing steadily to 922,000 in 2012 year to date.”
In May 2012, ABC iview reported a record 8.2 million program plays, according to the ABC. Prior to release of the new universal iOS app, the ABC iview app for iPad recorded more than 490,000 unique users. The broadcaster’s social media integration through shows like Q&A have been similarly successful, with an average episode of Q&A now generating 20,000 #qanda tweets from 5000 accounts. In total over 1 million #qanda tweets have been generated by the program.
“The future challenge for broadcasters is to provide greater choice to viewers – through catch-up, through unique video on demand content and through live-streaming of our channels,” said Dalton. “The Free-to-Air platform is well placed to embrace the connected world and strengthen its connection with audiences.”
“ABC iview was the piece of innovation that liberated ABC TV as a broadcaster from the ‘fixed in time and space’ linear relationship with audiences. It will be the delivery of iview to iPhones and iPads that will make ABC TV truly mobile.”
I used iview extensively on both the iPad and PC, as do many of my friends. If the other TV networks could produce a platform as great (either with ads, pay per view or both), I would watch a lot more television than I currently do. iview’s immense success should come as no surprise to those who have been using it for some time. The platform is simply world-class in every way, and we applaud the ABC for getting its development right. If only others would copy (or licence) the platform, TV might become what Australia clearly wants it to be — on-demand, wherever we are, on whatever device we want to watch it on.
Image credit: ABC