iPlayer – pattern to problems?

I had one of my frequent bouts of insomnia last night, so at 2am I thought I would give in and watch some BBC programmes via BBC iplayer.  I’ve recently downloaded the client to my laptop, because of various problems in the past, despite my reservations (well, rant) when I tried the client last year.

Of course, the client is Windows only, so I have to run Parallels, then iPlayer client.  This works, and it overcomes the streaming ‘stutter’ which plagues my watching anything using the flash page.

But, at 2am I thought traffic would be light, both on TalkTalk and from the BBC, so settled down with a cup of hot milk to watch Top Gear.

Big mistake.

The stream still stuttered around once a minute, and even my usual trick of pausing playback for around five minutes, then playing the stream didn’t work.  I know my broadband connection is a soggy piece of string, but it’s stable in all other applications (even YouTube!), here’s a cut/paste from my router’s page as I type.

Data Rate Down/Up491Kb/446Kb

But to confuse the issue, as I type this on Big Mac, I’m watching the live flash video stream of the Any Murray v Richard Gasquet on MacBook.  It’s been streaming for about fifteen minutes, at 6:30pm which must be peak ‘Internet time’ both for TalkTalk and the BBC.

And the only stutter has been when I fired up a very media intense web page!

So I’m now confused.  Why can I stream a live video in high enough quality that I can spot a green ball on a green lawn, which is being watched concurrently by tens of thousands of people, when I cannot watch a pre-recorded programme using BBC iPlayer (I tried the original player, and the new beta service just in case).

I can’t wait for the mac client to arrive, which should by then provide additional functionality such as ‘series link’, and maybe, just maybe an extension to the restrictive 7 day watching period once download starts.

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