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BBC R&D solves iPlayer streaming delay

Prototype will look to solve lag issues experienced while live streaming this summer's World Cup

BBC Research & Development (R&D) says it has worked out how to solve the problem of “streaming lag” as experienced by viewers watching this summer’s World Cup on iPlayer.

Some viewers reported a ‘lag’ while watching matches of 30 seconds or more behind the TV broadcast.

The R&D team has been experimenting with either reducing the duration of each media segment, or by creating the segments progressively as a series of chunks that can be passed through the chain immediately as they become available.

Chris Poole, lead research engineer for BBC R&D, said: “Obviously, viewers were frustrated this summer hearing goals go in before they saw them, or finding out about a red card decisions on social media first. That’s why we’re so excited by the results of our experiments, and we’re hoping that the demonstration we’ll be showing at IBC will help accelerate the work taking place across the industry to eliminate long delays from internet streams.

“Earlier this year, BBC CTPO Matthew Postgate said that the days when all media will be distributed over the internet are not too far away. With that in mind, we’re hoping that this work will help to make our internet-streamed live video as good as it can possibly be.

“What we’re showing at IBC is a prototype, however. To roll it out properly will take time, and it needs coordination with the whole industry, so viewers shouldn’t expect the lag to disappear imminently. But perhaps by the time they’re watching the next World Cup, viewers will be cheering at the same time, regardless of how they’re watching the match.”

The team will be showing the demo at the BBC R&D stand at IBC, in the Future Zone (8.F08), comparing a live TV broadcast from the BBC newsroom with a live internet stream.