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BBC iPlayer launches on Xbox 360 after years of wrangling

THE BBC iPlayer has launched on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 consoles – after three years of negotiations.

The highly-anticipated launch, which was first announced last October, has taken three years to happen,after initial discussions in 2009 between the BBC and Microsoft, hit a stumbling block, because the technology giant wanted to charge for all content on its Xbox Live platform.

However, since then Microsoft has done an about-turn and all Xbox 360 users, with an Xbox Live account (which is available free of charge), from today onwards will be able to access the BBC iPlayer for free.

The Corporation’s popular web player is now on all major gaming platforms in the UK.

Additionally Xbox 360 users, which have the Kinect motion-controller, will be able to control the iPlayer using hand gestures and voice commands for the first time.

According to sources close to the BBC’s Future Media and Technology department, a deal between the two parties couldn’t be reached until October 2011 because Microsoft’s strategy of charging for all content on its Xbox Live platform being incompatible with the BBC’s public service remit.

“Microsoft only wants to offer its users access to platforms it can charge for as this is the model it is pursuing. It wants to ensure that only those paying for Xbox Live Gold accounts can access its additional content services and even then there is usually a charge on top to get access to those,” a source close to the BBC told The Telegraph in 2009.

The BBC iPlayer is now available on 450 platforms including Virgin Media, BT Vision, FreeSat, Freeview, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and hundreds of mobile phones, tablets, and internet-connected TVs.

Daniel Danker, BBC general manager, Programmes & On-Demand, said: “Xbox is hugely successful in the UK. Given the BBC’s goal to reach its entire audience, I’m particularly excited that the BBC will be bringing iPlayer to all Xbox users at no extra cost as part of Xbox LIVE’s free membership.

“As we continue our work to make BBC iPlayer as simple as possible, we’re also excited to experiment with natural user interfaces made possible with Kinect, including voice and gesture control. We believe it’s early days for these experiences, but see a great future working with partners such as Microsoft on innovations like these.”