"The needs and behaviour of our audience is changing and we've seen a dramatic shift in the past year," said Ashley Highfield, director of new media and technology at the BBC, at the Mix06 web development conference in Las Vegas.
"In addition to our traditional business of text, journalism, pictures and graphics, we are now seeing a huge consumption of audio and video, radio and television programmes."
David Bradshaw, principal analyst at Ovum, said: "This sounds like bad news for Real, which has been the BBC's default live media vehicle. From what I've seen it does seem like the end of the deal."
Marco Menato, vice-president EMEA for Real Networks told vnunet.com: “We have a very long and historical relationship with the BBC and you will see that relationship deepen and expand over the months and years to come. Microsoft’s specific announcement and the conference that it held in Las Vegas recently in no way threatens that.”
“The iMP project involves the Windows Media format to a great extent and in its launch phase particularly in its current test phase that has been the single format used. Having said that, the plan is to extend that to our format as well. You will see that the product will in the future, once it goes public, include both formats.”
“Outside of the iMP we continue to be the BBC’s principal partner. So, for instance, BBC2 services are all launched in Real Networks’ format and extensive film catalogues are going to be made available. There’s plenty of work going on in simulcasting outside of the iMP. We’re right in the midst of it all, we don’t make as much noise as Microsoft that’s our problem,” Menato added.
“We already do fit in with the digital rights management (DRM) system in a variety of fields, such as music or other forms of digital content. If the question is are we going to develop our own DRM for the BBC and utilise that? That is still up in the air. Real hasn’t decided and the BBC hasn’t decided.”
BBC spokesman Paul Almond told vnunet.com that there would be no change at the moment, although digital rights management would restrict the planned services to the Microsoft player.
"The BBC will continue to offer existing services in both Real and Windows Media streaming formats," he said.
"However, for the initial launch of myBBCplayer, programmes that are downloaded and encrypted using digital rights management will be offered in a single format. For subsequent releases additional download formats may be offered."
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