The better way to view the BBC iPlayer on your Wii.
For 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:
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.
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.
- 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?
Larger screenshots can be found here: http://defaced.co.uk/wiiplayer/screens.php
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.