The BBC has upgraded its iPlayer online catch-up service to add a Live Restart feature.
It’s the result of some fundamental changes at the back-end by the broadcaster’s engineers but as far as the user interface is concerned, it’s a simple change that means you can now skip back to the beginning of a current programme.
Until now you either had to watch the live TV channel or wait until the whole show finishes and makes its way up onto the iPlayer.
It applies to the computer version of the iPlayer but the Beeb plans to add the feature to the various mobile, tablet and Smart TV apps later in 2012. Also, some live programmes or films may not be cleared for online time-shifted viewing due to broadcast licence restrictions.
The head of the BBC iPlayer, Dave Price, said of the upgrade:, “We all know how frustrating it is when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, or delayed on the tube, missing the critical start of your favourite BBC programme. Live Restart solves this by giving audiences control. With one simple click of a button viewers can skip back to the beginning of a live programme, ensuring they never miss a moment of their favourite BBC programmes.”
The new feature brings the iPlayer closer to a cloud-based PVR. Live Restart even lets you change the channel and offers the chance to rewind any of the current BBC programmes, up to a two-hour time limit.
Set-top boxes such as Sky have had a rewind live TV facility from the outset but the box needs to be on and buffering the channel you want to see. If you change channel, the buffer is cleared.
VirginMedia’s TiVo PVR allows you to rewind any of the channels that its three tuners are buffering but, again, it’s pot luck if any of those is the channel you actually want to rewind when you come home.
According to BBC statistics, live viewing requests on the iPlayer are increasingly popular. In April they made up 22 per cent of viewing requests on the service’s desktop/laptop version, an increase of 18 per cent compared to April 2011.
More info: BBC Internet Blog
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