While games consoles have traditionally been used for playing games, Microsoft and Sony have both been touting the home entertainment value of their consoles. Microsoft has offered Netflix movie downloads and Twitter support, while Sony has its Blu-ray drive and media streaming functionality. Another ace up the sleeve for Sony is the BBC iPlayer, which it can access through the integrated Web browser.
However, iPlayer has really become a core feature with the recent 3.0 firmware update, which adds an icon to the XMB and updates the software used to run the player. According to the BBC, this has now pushed iPlayer usage on the console to the point where it now accounts for around 10 percent of all iPlayer viewing, overtaking the Mac at 8.5 percent to become the second-most-popular platform.
Thanks to additional H.264 Flash support, coupled with hardware acceleration and decoding, the new iPlayer videos are streamed to the PS3 at 1500Kbps, which Anthony Rose, Controller Online Media Group and Vision at the BBC, is calling "almost as good as broadcast television!"
BBC's iPlayer service launched in 2007, with the service rolling out to the PS3 and Wii towards the tail end of 2008. GameSpot UK sister site CNET UK recently interviewed Rose, who revealed that the platform uses an astonishing amount of bandwidth, equating to about 60Gbps, or around 7.5GB downloaded every second during peak hours.
Despite the success of the PS3 iPlayer, some users have reported issues with the player icon not appearing in the XMB. According to the BBC, iPlayer will appear only on the dashboard of consoles with serial numbers in the format of CECH-XXX3, which is the code for units sold in the UK.