BBC launches new iPlayer built for multi-device viewing

Saqib Shah
March 11, 2014

The BBC has unveiled its new-look iPlayer on-demand service, marking the first time the service has been rebuilt since 2011, with improvements made to its search feature, a more responsive design and online-only exclusives.

The web and TV versions of iPlayer are going live today, with the mobile and tablet apps to be updated with the new interface in the coming months, Dan Taylor, head of iPlayer, said in a press conference today.

So, what’s new?  Well, the home page and pages for individual channels have been refreshed.  Of the new changes, the “Collections” page – where people can now browse for shows by season, event or theme – indicates that the BBC has embraced the VOD model used by its competitors such as Netflix and Google Play.

As Taylor points out, there have been some collections on the iPlayer already, specifically via BBC Four, “but they’ve been difficult to find in iPlayer. The new iPlayer enables us to showcase those collections on an ongoing basis.”

Similarly, the BBC has updated how it lets users play back programmes, or as Taylor puts it, “what users are looking to do before, during and after viewing.”

Expect to see more features get added here to play up the concept of a “second screen”, which could lead to enhancements for mobile devices and multi-device viewing.

The redesign is also using a new version of the BBC’s  Standard Media Player which the BBC promises will improve the playback experience now and over time through the use of plug-ins to tag shows as favourites and to cue up subsequent episodes.

The BBC was also keen to state its plans for the future regarding the newly designed platform.  The next steps are to launch online-only channels  – the first of which will be BBC Three – and more personalisation features.

The iPlayer service, which is free to use in the UK and paid for by license holders, is currently available across some 1,000 devices and has 10 million programme requests daily.

Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC, described the iPlayer today as a “metaphor for the BBC, a new way to experiment [offer an] open and inclusive staging place for talent” and “an opportunity to innovate and challenge.”


About the Author

Saqib Shah

Tech/gaming journalist for What Mobile magazine and website. Interests include film, digital media and foreign affairs.

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