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WiiPlayer, the better way to view the BBC iPlayer.

The better way to view the BBC iPlayer on your Wii.

WiiPlayerFor the past week I have been busy working on an alternative method for viewing the BBC iPlayer on the Wii. While the BBC iPlayer website already works on the Wii I felt it’s current design was not suitable for the small resolution of Opera Wii, making navigation difficult and text unreadable.

To get started just point your Wii browser to:
http://defaced.co.uk/wiiplayer/

More information, disclaimer and FAQ inside this post.

What is it?

An alternative way to view the BBC iPlayer content on your Wii. For those of you not familiar with the BBC iPlayer, it’s a streaming service from the BBC allowing you to watch any shows screened on the BBC in the last seven days.

Why create it?

Recently the BBC added support for the Wii’s internet browser to their iPlayer service. Although it works, navigation and usability is severely hindered by the restrictive viewing resolution and text rendering of the Wii browser. WiiPlayer was designed as a better way to browse and view the iPlayer content on your Wii.

How does it work?

Just point your Wii internet browser at: http://defaced.co.uk/wiiplayer
You will need to be connecting from within the UK, and have at least a 1mbit connection.

WiiPlayerWiiPlayer

Once connected to the WiiPlayer select an option from the main menu.
- The eight channel buttons will sort their entries via Most Recent.
- The category buttons will sort their entries via Most Recent.
- Alphabetical buttons will sort their entries via A-Z.

You will then be taken to the program selection screen, click the arrows to navigate through all the possible selections for your chosen category. Clicking on the program in the list will take you to the video viewer. Cicking on the black bar beneath the video viewer will bring up detailed information about the program. NOTE: This does not lose your place in the video.

You can return at any time to the main menu by clicking on the WiiPlayer logo in the top corner, or return to the previous page by clicking the left (back) arrow. Note: Do not use the browsers own back button on the toolbar, due to the way the page works it will not function as expected.

Why can’t I access it from my PC?

WiiPlayer has been limited for use to the Wii, this is because it has been designed from the ground up with solely the Wii browser in mind. Some of the font-sizes and positions look out of place when viewed on a PC as they were chosen for how they rendered on the Wii and looked when viewed on a television. It is possible in the future I will adapt things further to allow connections from other browsers, but for the moment it is locked to the Wii.

Does it support widescreen?

Yes, although WiiPlayer was primarily designed for a 4:3 screen. When using the Wii in 4:3 all the WiiPlayer content will be visible with the Wii Opera toolbar displayed. In 16:9 due to the nature of how Wii Opera renders (the width is always 800px, so in widescreen mode you get a lot less height to play around with) it is necessary for the toolbar to be hidden. This can be done via the settings in Wii Opera. To fit all the content on the screen in 16:9 mode WiiPlayer will display the page slightly differently to how it appears in these 4:3 screenshots (The main content layer has been shifted up).

Why is the listing sometimes out of sync with the official iPlayer?

This is because to reduce the load on the BBC’s servers requests are cached for a certain length of time. Caching means that not only will the BBC’s servers be under reduced load from the WiiPlayer but that results will be returned quicker if available in the local cache.

Why are some videos not available?

This is because they are not available on the official iPlayer for Wii either. The BBC have presumably not got around to encoded them yet, or decided against encoding them for availability on the Wii version of the iPlayer.

Other known issues

- When looking at the semi-transparent information overlay on the video screen, the video runs choppy in the background.
This is down to how the Wii handles things, and does not effect video playback when the overlay is removed again.

- In widescreen mode the content layer appears over the WiiPlayer logo.
This is because I had to shift the content layer up when the Wii is in widescreen to fit everything on screen. Clicking on the visible part of WiiPlayer logo will still return you to the menu.

Future development

- Adding support for the Wiimote buttons via Opera’s Wii API
- Optimising the size of the auto zoom on the video layer.
- Support for the user selecting A-Z or by Most Recent.
- Support for Search.
- Support for listing via days of the week.
- Category sub menus.
- Better support for missing videos.

Do you have more screenshots?

Certainly.

WiiPlayerWiiPlayer
WiiPlayerWiiPlayer

Larger screenshots can be found here: http://defaced.co.uk/wiiplayer/screens.php

Disclaimer

Wiiplayer is unofficial and not affiliated in any way with either the BBC or Nintendo.

WiiPlayer uses trademarks owned by the BBC and Nintendo under non-commercial fair use. No endorsement or affiliation of the WiiPlayer by the BBC or Nintendo is implied by this use.

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30 Responses to “WiiPlayer, the better way to view the BBC iPlayer.”

  1. Oliver Says:

    Excellent work, looks great :)

  2. Davey boy Says:

    Why is it so choppy, no matter what site I view it off. although defaced is a better layout.

  3. defaced Says:

    This is due to a couple of things. Firstly, the implementation/optimisation of Flash on Opera Wii, and secondly, the encoding rate and resolution of the videos done by the BBC. I believe the BBC are working on finding the optimal encoding settings for the Wii specific videos, so hopefully over time video playback will improve. Also depending on when you last used WiiPlayer there was a problem which was causing the videos to run worse than the official website, which has now been fixed.

  4. Interesting Stuff 2008-06-03 | Dom.ir Blog Says:

    [...] this subject of unofficial iPlayer resources, we’ve also been taking a keen interest in the WiiPlayer, as discussed on the Backstage mailing list, and in the lo-res iPlayerlist (“making the unmissable, [...]

  5. Dave Says:

    It works very well, I just watched a complete episode of Dragons Den and Scallywagga and it was flawless……not sue how to make the videos full screen though also can you get rid of the browser navigation bar
    Graet job

  6. defaced Says:

    Thanks. You can make the videos fullscreen (or close to) by zooming in with the + button on the wiimote. I find personally that the automatic zoom mode works best.

    You can get rid of the browser navigation bar by going into the Opera settings (accessible by the first page you come to when Opera loads up) and selecting the mode that best suits you. I keep mine on toggle mode so I can hide the navigation bar with the (1) button on the wiimote.

  7. Nintendo Limited » Unofficial iPlayer App Launched Online Says:

    [...] be a UK resident to access the content). More info on the project can be found on the official site here. By Admin in Announcements  You can follow any responses to this entry through the [...]

  8. Adam Says:

    Just out of interest what kind of numbers do you see of people using this? I’m interested in a wii channel but not sure of the penetration yet of people using internet channel and the wifi

  9. defaced Says:

    Looking at my logs I’ve had roughly about 700 individual video views on the WiiPlayer this month. Will be interesting to see how many returning users I have once things settle down in the coming weeks.

  10. Hawkman Says:

    Awesome stuff. You’ve made this really polished – the kind of great job the BBC should have done, in fact… Really hope you get time to add the features you’ve got planned; particularly if you could get the video filling the screen by default. A widescreen version would be nice, too – all the pages are just a mite too tall. A minor niggle, though. This just replaced my iplayer bookmark.

    Now, if only the BBC’s video quality didn’t suck… bring on an official iPlayer channel, I say!

  11. Pd Off LicensePayer Says:

    Interested to know why BB iPlayer doesnt include rewatch of ‘Heroes’

  12. Super DS Blog » WiiPlayer - Watch BBC iPlayer on your Wii Says:

    [...] a short post, I thought I should share this for those who might not have seen [...]

  13. Rachel Says:

    This looks great, im off to try it and to spread the word!

  14. Martin Says:

    I’ll try this in the morning – I went to watch something on iPlayer tonight (the first time using the wii browser) and it told me the view could not be displayed. I have no idea why though.

    Hopefully this’ll work, as I like the idea of being able to watch iPlayer shows through the TV.

  15. Adventures With A Wii - When It’s Broken! | ryanajarrett.com Says:

    [...] On the topic of catching up, its worth mentioning that defaced.co.uk have created a version of the BBC iPlayer interface that has been optimised to work with the Wii.

  16. Rich Says:

    Getting the same error messages on all shows now – view cannot be displayed.

    Is this something to do with the recent iplayer upgrade?

    Really great site, and would be really sorry to lose it.

  17. Jazzer Says:

    iPlayer works OK on my Wii (though quite choppy) but your WiiPlayer won’t. The site works and I can bring up a video to watch but when I press PLAY nothing happens. Is there some fine tuning I can do? Thanks

  18. Robert Parker Says:

    Is the wiiplayer still working ? I tried last night and none of the titles I tried actually played. Is there a problem because of the new iPlayer interface?

    I’d be interested in lending a hand making the improvements, especially the search facility. Drop me an email …

  19. defaced Says:

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I recently rewrote all the scraping code to work with the new iPlayer interface. Though at the time the video playback on the official site was broken, so I couldn’t get to work on altering that. I’ll have a look at it today and see what I can do.

  20. defaced Says:

    …and fixed. Should work as it did before now, just needed to update the embed code.

  21. charlie Says:

    Hi I am new to all of this and keep getting errors which look like code fragments. Is the site still working ?

  22. defaced Says:

    Thanks for the heads up, it looks like my provider decided to mess with a few PHP settings. I’ve had a fiddle and it should be all fixed now.

  23. RobW Says:

    Thank you for this fantastic improvement to the iPlayer service on the Wii.

    Do you have any plans for radio programmes to appear (I could just browse back to the BBC site for radio but it would be good to have it all in one place).

  24. Jenny Says:

    Hi, i am from the uk and living in spain, is there any way i can watch the bbci player?
    thankyou
    xxx

  25. Jeremy Says:

    It aint working at all tonight

  26. defaced Says:

    Thanks for letting me know Jeremy, seems the BBC changed their layout slightly which broke WiiPlayer. I’ve looked into it and updated my code. Should be working again now.

  27. bones Says:

    this is mentioned above, but seriously, Heroes never seem’s to work on Wiiplayer. Any reason why?? Good job otherwise tho. Cheers mate.

  28. defaced Says:

    I’ve just had a look and I see what you mean, but it doesn’t seem to work on the official website either.

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