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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

BBC announces Nintendo Wii deal

Pensioner playing Nintendo Wii, AP
The Wii has brought many people to gaming for the first time

The BBC's iPlayer video service will soon be available via the Nintendo Wii.

The video download and streaming service that lets people catch up with BBC programmes will soon be a channel on the hugely popular game console.

Early versions of the service will be available from 9 April but more polished software will be released as the service is developed.

The BBC is still at loggerheads with internet service providers (ISPs) over who should pay for extra network costs.

ISPs say the iPlayer is putting strain on their networks, which need to be upgraded to cope. Simon Gunter, from ISP Tiscali, is leading a call for the BBC to help pay for the rising costs.

But Ashley Highfield, head of future media and technology at the corporation, has said he believes the cost of network upgrades should be carried by ISPs.

The news of the Nintendo Wii deal comes as the BBC reveals a steep rise in the numbers of people using the iPlayer.

Fast seller

"The BBC's catch-up TV service can now be accessed on an increasing number of different platforms - from the web and portable devices to gaming consoles," said Erik Huggers, BBC's group controller for Future Media and Technology, announcing the deal in a speech at the MipTV-Milia conference in Cannes.

He added that the iPlayer will also soon be available on television.

The iPlayer on the Wii is currently being tested and the BBC expects to release more test versions in late 2008. An early version of the service is available from 9 April. It is only available in the UK to licence-fee payers.

The iPlayer will be accessible via the internet channel on the Wii console. The BBC said a message would be sent to Wii owners to alert them to its availability.

The news comes as the BBC releases the latest viewing figures for the iPlayer.

In March 2008, more than 17.2 million requests to download or stream BBC programmes were made via the iPlayer. This is up 25% on the previous month and means more than 42 million programmes have been accessed via the iPlayer since its Christmas 2007 launch.

Nintendo's Wii has rapidly become the world's most popular console largely thanks to its innovative motion-sensitive controller.

In the UK it has become the fastest-selling console ever, shifting more than one million units in just 38 weeks after going on sale.

Original here

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