Xbox 360 Gets BBC iPlayer and 4OD Content -- But Does It Mean Anything Any More?

By Gary Cutlack on at

Microsoft has announced plans to add BBC and Channel 4 content to its Xbox 360 TV service, finally bringing the big guns to its Xbox Live media domination plans. But it's a bit late, isn't it?

A few years ago we'd have happily booted up the Xbox 360 and paged through its clunky menu system, excitedly trying to find vaguely interesting media to watch. Because it was one of the few ways we could get "HD" images on our TVs.

But today, when high quality TV and films are so easily accessed on PC, laptop and even through the iPlayer app and other Flash streaming solutions on mobile phones, the thought of firing up a console and navigating it with an Xbox 360 controller seems so... last generation.

I can watch iPlayer and 4OD under the duvet on my battered old HTC Desire. I am literally in bed with Kirstie Allsopp and Rachel Riley on a regular basis. My TV lets me watch downloaded HD movies through its USB socket. Even my cheap laptop has enough power to display a 1080p film.

Xbox 360's solution, even with yet another redesigned interface, is clunkier than all of the above. It doesn't support multi-tasking. You won't be able to switch between films and games, without first exiting the game, heading back to the menu, then searching for your video clip.

You still won't be able to have yesterday's episode of Countdown running in a window in the corner while you play Gears of War 3, which is what a proper next-gen TV service really should be able to do.

But if you are keen on having yet another media pipeline pumping slush into your lounge, the 4OD option will be available to Xbox Live Gold subscribers only, offering the last 30 days worth of C4 content -- plus "highlights" from the channel's past. It's down to launch in time for Christmas, after the next Xbox 360 dashboard update rolls out

The BBC hasn't yet gone into specifics regarding Xbox 360 iPlayer, but it ought to match the existing PS3 and Wii iPlayer options. [Microsoft]