iPlayer video and audio quality -- BBC response

Kotatsu Neko

Distinguished Member
With regard to the audio - there was a feature a few years back by the BBC (if I recall sorry being vague) citing how dialogue over time has become harder to hear in programmes. So I don't think it has much to do with conversion but more to do with how the audio is captured and mixed in the first instance, and what those involved with production want to achieve, from an artistic perspective.
It's likely compression too. iPlayer streams are amongst if not the most over composed of any paid for provider.
 

teeveedee

Well-known Member
Try iPlayer on a modern smart TV. It's light years ahead. Much better and more visually interesting UI and streaming in 1080p and occasionally 4K HLG.

The BBC haven't updated iPlayer on the Apple TV in years, and likely never will again. It was a very low effort app to begin with, as it's not really an app at all. It uses Apple's free scripting framework which allows developers with no money/time/ability to knock out a bare bones "app" with just the most basic scrolling thumbnail functionality. The expectation is that everyone would write a custom app, which every big provider did. Except the BBC.

Arguably even Apple's bare bones framework is still better than the abomination that is the Now TV app, but that's a different discussion.
Light years ahead? I think not. iPlayer on my two year old smart TV is clunky and slow compared to the Apple TV app. Yes it has a more modern & colourful UI, 1080P & 4K HLG streaming, but it doesn't come close to the speed and slickness of the ATV app, nor does it have the two hour buffer on live BBC channels to skip further back beyond the 'watch from start' option.
The image quality difference is negligible between a 1080P stream from the TV app and a 720P upscale to 4K from the ATV box on my TV, so I'm very happy to use it to catch up on content and only fire up the TV app for 4K HLG content.
 

JWBS

Novice Member
Hello, I found this thread when I googled "IPlayer resolution" and I see it was started a while back but is still active so I'll reply with my experiences (I haven't read the full thread). Today I saw a clip on YT from the bbc nature doc Dynasties. It is a beautiful clip, Attenborough narrating, 4k, all very nice
I decided I might check out the full show on Iplayer, maybe try to download something for my dad since he loves this type of stuff and idk if he has seen this one. All good so far, but I'm really bemused by the quality of the Iplayer presentation. Apparently on the Iplayer app I'm watching it in "Highest" quality, but tbh it looks like 480p, that's not an exaggeration. This is quite bizarre, and needless to say very disappointing.
 

teeveedee

Well-known Member
Hello, I found this thread when I googled "IPlayer resolution" and I see it was started a while back but is still active so I'll reply with my experiences (I haven't read the full thread). Today I saw a clip on YT from the bbc nature doc Dynasties. It is a beautiful clip, Attenborough narrating, 4k, all very nice
I decided I might check out the full show on Iplayer, maybe try to download something for my dad since he loves this type of stuff and idk if he has seen this one. All good so far, but I'm really bemused by the quality of the Iplayer presentation. Apparently on the Iplayer app I'm watching it in "Highest" quality, but tbh it looks like 480p, that's not an exaggeration. This is quite bizarre, and needless to say very disappointing.

Not all iPlayer apps will play 4K content. You can check the list of supported devices here:
Supported TV devices for Ultra HD trials | iPlayer help
 

JWBS

Novice Member
Yeah when I say app I mean the Iplayer site on PC. Honestly it looks like 480. I watch all media on my PC on a 4k monitor, and I was honestly surprised to read here that Iplayer is apparently 720p, it really seems worse than that to me (and genuine 720 would still be quite bad, imo).
 

JWBS

Novice Member
Here's a still from the show in question. This just looks very bad, in my opinion. Like an amateur youtube video from 2014 or something. Just really bad, considering what the bbc YT vids look like (and are therefore by definition capable of). Look at that logo in the top left. This goes for the entire thing, the whole picture is blocky and fuzzy throughout, it's very low quality, not what I would expect.
Screenshot (1190).png
 

teeveedee

Well-known Member
@JWBS
iPlayer via the web will max out at 1080P if you have sufficient bandwidth. Which browser are you using? Could be some sort of cache or buffering issue.
 

Kotatsu Neko

Distinguished Member
I think you can right click on the video and get some stats up. The non-4K stuff maxes out at 5mbit I think, and never looks any better than terrible.
 

JWBS

Novice Member
I use Chrome, and my ISP is Virgin (the best I can get right now, it isn't their top package but it is the only provider that is any good in my area imo. I just ran a speed test and it says 100mbps download). I would not want to switch browser just for IPlayer, since I really don't use IPlayer.
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
Dynasties S1 E1:
If, on a PC, you right click on the video playing the BBC iPlayer will tell you what resolution and bitrate it has decided to dynamically allocate to your stream.

On my sub 1080 lappy via wifi its only 960 x 540 and 2900 kbit/s at the moment. 30Mbit/s FTTC.
 

JWBS

Novice Member
I checked, and it says the same as yours, 960 at 2900. I assume that must be a low bit rate and it is what makes the picture so blocky, because as I say the picture looks like it is lower than 720. Oh well.
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
I checked, and it says the same as yours, 960 at 2900. I assume that must be a low bit rate and it is what makes the picture so blocky, because as I say the picture looks like it is lower than 720. Oh well.
It is lower: 960 pixels wide by 540 pixels high. That's square pixels and SD resolution (ish) (SD is 720 x 576 4:3 with widescreen having anamorphic/rectangular pixels).
1280 x 720p is one form of HD and used for iPlayer a lot to many devices.
1960 x 1080i is UK broadcast HD.

Some devices get better resolutions and BBC 4k trials in particular are not supported on PCs and quite a few other devices. {Quite possibly due to content protection issues that such devices present.}.
 

JWBS

Novice Member
Haha. That's why it looks like 480 then, cos it basically is. Kind of unbelievable if you ask me, surely whoever is in charge of online content distribution knows that this is pitiably low.
 

atmoscinema

Active Member
It's not just the resolution that makes BBC iPlayer blocky, it is the very low bitrate.

This is particularly evident for BBC music events, when there is a lot of flashing stage lighting, plus large audiences moving around.

I wish these were in 4K on iPlayer, in case i forget to record them.

This is why it is best to record them in the first place, if you can.
 

Not a sky fan

Active Member
Hi I found this thread after searching on the same subject concerning iPlayer uhd hdr PQ

Frankly… it’s shockingly disappointing in most cases. I’ve just watched dynasties 2 with the pumas and what I’m seeing here is absolutely no better than HD but seems to struggle for bandwidth in that the PQ comes and goes. It’s like google earth where the detail takes time to build on the screen. But by which time the frame moves on, it’s like their servers can’t keep up. It’s not our end as YouTube Uhd hdr is stunning, as is iPlayer beta test loop showing the cup final and planet earth 2

But play an advertised uhd video on iPlayer, I’m sorry but there’s simply zero point bothering to shoot wildlife in uhd hdr then presenting it in HD

But I’m wondering if it’s just traffic in their servers given the more popular times of the day when everyone is on it?

Some times I’m sure I’ve seen good video content in uhd but lately it’s just not there.

Or, afterthought, have they nobbled the bandwidth for the pandemic and not set it back?

Well anyway uhd is poor here. How’s yours?
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
Hi I found this thread after searching on the same subject concerning iPlayer uhd hdr PQ



Well anyway uhd is poor here. How’s yours?
Device? Is it listed as UHD iPlayer UHD Trials capable?

If not it won't be getting the UHD streams...
 
Last edited:

Not a sky fan

Active Member
Hi I found this thread after searching on the same subject concerning iPlayer uhd hdr PQ

Frankly… it’s shockingly disappointing in most cases. I’ve just watched dynasties 2 with the pumas and what I’m seeing here is absolutely no better the HD but seems to struggle for bandwidth in that the PQ comes and goes. It’s like google earth where the detail takes time to build on the screen. But by which time the frame moves on, it’s like their servers can’t kept up. It’s not our end as YouTube Uhd hdr is stunning, as this iPlayer beta test loop showing the cup final and planet earth 2

But play an advertised uhd video on iPlayer it’s I’m sorry but there’s simply zero point bothering to shoot wildlife in uhd hdr then presenting it in HD

But I’m wondering if it’s just traffic in their servers given the ore popular times if the day when everyone is on it?

Some times I’m sure I’ve seen good video content in uhd but lately it’s just not there.

Or, afterthought, have they nobbled the bandwidth for the pandemic and not set it back?

Well anyway uhd is poor here. How’s yoyrs
Device? Is it listed as UHD iPlayer UHD Trials capable?

If not it won't be getting the UHD streams...
Even though the trial uhd hdr content clearly is being received? As said? Your saying I won’t get uhd content ? Is that what your saying?
 

Not a sky fan

Active Member
And the tv confirms the iPlayer app showing HDR uhd reguardless off the PQ…?
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
Oh well... you can take a horse to water...
There's an edit button for a reason BTW, rather than posting afterthoughts as separate posts and no need to repeat your long original rant for some strange reason.

Complain to BBC directly rather than moaning here? They'll likely welcome some well observed comments on it.
 

Not a sky fan

Active Member
And the tv confirms the iPlayer app showing HDR uhd reguardless off the PQ…?

Edited to add smiley 🙂
 

Not a sky fan

Active Member
IPlayer complaint response below
I have replied further stating all of the criteria are met. Isp gives 320mbps up and down. The app can not be deleted on this device. Tv is up to date.

Further the app help section shows resolution as 2160x1080p and 2160x1080p
MYbe one of those should show 3840x2160 …?





Thank you for contacting BBC iPlayer support.

We understand that UHD picture quality was poor when you tried streaming 'Dynasties II: Puma'.

You'll need an internet connection of 24MBit/s for the full 3840 pixel Ultra HD experience, or 12MBit/s for 2560 pixel Ultra HD. If you're having streaming issues, your connection may not be fast or stable enough to play the Ultra HD stream smoothly at that time.

If you're continually experiencing issues with quality, please try following these steps:

Update your device's firmware (this is usually found in the device ‘settings/system information’ and may be called 'software' or 'system'). Sometimes bugs may have been fixed in an update. If you need assistance with updating the firmware, contact your service provider or manufacturer.

If your device lets you add and remove apps, try removing the BBC iPlayer app and re-adding it. If you're not sure about how to do that, you should contact your manufacturer.

If any issues persist, please get back in touch and we'll investigate further.

UHD content on iPlayer is still a work in progress. Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us. Your comments will be made available to senior management. The teams really value feedback like this as it helps to shape and improve the service that we provide.

Best wishes,
 

teeveedee

Well-known Member
@Not a sky fan
What TV are you using to access iPlayer?
I've never had any trouble with the UHD HDR streams via the app on both my Samsung and Panasonic TVs. Takes a second or two for the stream to buffer and settle, but then it's flawless.
 

Not a sky fan

Active Member
The results are the same on fire stick except the tv says the content is HDR. Usually reserved for UHD obviously but again the PQ is the same as HD
 

Not a sky fan

Active Member
Tv is Samsung QE65Q9FN 2018
Listed in iPlayer as compatible


The results are the same on fire stick except the tv says the content is HDR. Usually reserved for UHD obviously but again the PQ is the same as HD on the fire stick too. The same programmes are not listed as uhd as they are on the tv app

Sky iPlayer states somewhere(iirc?) it is not uhd compatible anyway and the PQ looks the same.

So to sum up. Same PQ across three versions of the app, accept the tv app says it’s supposed to be UHD and the fire stick makes the tv says it’s HDR

To my eye it’s all just 1080p same as any other.

I’d probably expect the iPlayer app to states the uhd resolution in the description, no? It’s just say 1080p at the bottom
B815C9C4-551A-4FAA-8C02-11168E14571F.jpeg
 

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