- BBC Signs OMA DRM Rights Deal; iPlayer Content Now Downloadable To Mobile Devices

Dianne See Morrison
Monday, October 13, 2008 4:00 PM

Users of the BBC's catch-up service iPlayer will be able to download TV programs over the air directly to their handsets, thanks to a set of agreements that the British broadcaster has signed with technology and licensing companies CMLA, Core Media and Intertrust that will allow them to use OMA DRM 2.0, a digital rights management protection system developed by the Open Mobile Alliance.

In the past, the BBC could only offer streaming to mobile devices as it only has rights to make TV shows available in iPlayer for a limited number of days after the original broadcast, and have to ensure that the content was DRM protected. The BBC's new DRM-protected system has already launched on the Nokia ( NYSE: NOK) N96, which is accessible through a purpose built BBC iPlayer widget. The BBC has also tested other devices, including the Sony ( NYSE: SNE) Walkman, and says it plans to roll out the catch-up service on more mobile gadgets in the future.

As for downloading TV programs with the iPhone, that might take awhile. Rather pointedly in his blog, BBC Mobile Controller Matthew Postgate, notes that while Apple's iPlayer has proved "very popular" with iPhone and iPod Touch users, the BBC has never been able to allow offline playback of programs, or what he says is "one of the key use cases of mobile and portable devices." Why? Because Apple doesn't license its DRM to third party users, and so far, unlike Nokia and several other handset makers, doesn't support the OMA DRM 2 specification.

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