Streaming media has made a massive breakthrough thanks to Channel 4's smash hit Big Brother.

Since the show started six weeks ago there have been half a million downloads of RealNetwork's RealPlayer media streamer, needed to watch the live feeds from the house.

Many sites have traditionally been wary of offering so-called rich media functionality, in the form of all-singing-all-dancing banner ads and video downloads, through fear that the visitor may abandon the site instead of downloading the necessary player.

The free player is widely used for streaming media on the internet with 85% of such material according to the search engine Inktomi being in the RealPlayer format.

Download the latest version here http://www.real.com/player/index.html?lang=&src=topnav