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Revised BBC iPlayer Emerges from Beta


Revised BBC iPlayer Emerges from Beta

The new version of the BBC iPlayer has launched today, following a four month beta period. The BBC said in on its blog that the main aim of the new version was to provide a simple method of accessing the increased feature count, which includes integrated social networking with Facebook and Twitter.

James Hewines, head of BBC iPlayer, said that the BBC had been cautious in its approach to these enhancements. “While some users are generally receptive to change (especially where it brings obvious benefits) others may be more cautious,” he said. “The key design challenge was to add in these richer, more interactive capabilities without detracting from the overall simplicity of the experience.”

“The primary design challenge was to elegantly weave the new functionality and features into the iPlayer fabric while keeping the user interface simple,” wrote Fabian Birgfeld, head of product planning at the BBC’s Future Media and technology department.

“In a nutshell {the new iPlayer} offers new functionality in a new user interface that aims to make it easier for our audience to find what they want to watch or listen to. Streamlined navigation, new functionality and a new taxonomy will enable our audience to find more, quicker giving them more time to enjoy the content.”

The other key aspect was personalisation with For You, My Categories and Favourites sections being added to the interface. However, these will only appear to users though as they continue to access the iPlayer. “The different features are revealed over time as users engage with the content rather than all at once potentially overwhelming them,” Birgfeld wrote.

The blog also explained some of the beta’s teething troubles, such as the extended buffering periods, which derives from the adaptive streaming system switches from one Content Delivery network to another, and said that it has solved the issue of downloaded content going missing. However, it was revealed that the ability to download future episodes of favourite programmes automatically was not yet ready – a feature that was available in the beta, but just didn’t work.

Charles Tigges, Senior Business Development Manager for FM&T, hinted at future developments, stating the it was straightforward to bring the big screen iPlayer to internet connected TVs, and that the team was keeping a close eye of IP TV delivery platforms.

“We are waiting to see what connected TV platforms like project canvas (in which the BBC is a shareholder), Apple TV, Sky, Virgin Media and others can offer in this regard.”

Link: BBC Internet blog

James Reckitt

September 6, 2010, 6:37 pm

Why bother integrating social networking into everything nowadays? I think that this, like iTunes Ping, is utterly pointless...

What they should be doing is introducing a complete back catalogue of previously-aired shows (like 4oD) rather than continue with this 30-day viewing policy, after which the shows seem to disappear from the iPlayer catalogue into oblivion. As a license fee payer I want my moneys worth!

Sure, put on as much DRM as you like, just allow me to watch what I want *when* I want!


September 6, 2010, 7:29 pm

So that's all great but on a completely selfish side note, I wish the BBC News live stream's image wouldn't stutter on my Mac. Why only that channel? All the other live streams are fine. It's got to be that damn Flash again.

Tim Sutton

September 6, 2010, 7:48 pm

@ GoldenGuy

I don't know what to tell you, it works fine on all my proper computers.


September 6, 2010, 8:16 pm

I agree social networking intergration is pointless.... why? I dont want to "chat" to friends when i am watching Top Gear ---> I watch programmes in silence.


September 6, 2010, 8:35 pm

I agree with James Reckitt, there really should be a complete back catalogue just like 4oD as we are paying for them.


September 6, 2010, 8:37 pm

@james reckitt

could not agree more... social network linking seems like a virus every site has to have. whether its appropriate or not.

The Beeb does need to review its 30 day death policy. How can this assist in social networking when the link dies! not joined up thinking I suggest

I use iplayer on virgin media and sure would love more of abackcatalogue from auntie....


September 6, 2010, 10:15 pm

I like the new favourites feature, but the UI needs work. They've made it look nice with slidey boxes everywhere but unfortunately it's not as clear as it was. I would like a big grid where I can see a list of all the TV shows on all the channels for the past/next week. Currently all my navigation on the site is within a smallish box to the bottom left of the page. Not very nice!


September 7, 2010, 1:11 am

Am I missing something? I thought that iPlayer kept shows online for 7 days and that shows you download using the Air client last for 30.


September 7, 2010, 3:07 am


@Tim Sutton - OMG you're so funny!



September 7, 2010, 12:23 pm


@Tim Sutton - OMG you're so funny!



September 7, 2010, 7:28 pm

Hopefully the update will correct the issue with deleting episodes prematurely, usually just as they are pulled from the main iPlayer site.

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