The BBC is racing to keep up with the fast-changing landscape of home entertainment. With more and more viewers choosing to stream content, rather than watch scheduled TV shows, the broadcasting giant is plotting several key updates to iPlayer.
The updates will make BBC programmes available for a year on the platform, rather than 30 days, as was previously the case. iPlayer will also have a new style and layout. It seems likely that this will take some elements of Netflix’s simple and intuitive menus, following the channel’s success.
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The likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are about to be joined by more streaming platforms, Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus, all of which represent more competition for the BBC’s programming. The BBC believes that revamping iPlayer will help them compete in a changing market place.
Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s director of content, told The Guardian: “iPlayer will become the heart of everything we do; the gateway to all our programmes – a ‘total TV’ experience, which will bring everything you want from BBC television into one place for the first time.”
This is a forward thinking move from the BBC. Currently it still performs well in terms of viewers and ratings, but the move towards streaming and online content is gathering pace.
There are warning signs too, Strictly Come Dancing is one of the BBC’s flagship entertainment shows and 2019 ratings aren’t stacking up to last year’s. As a result this update is basically an attempt to future-proof the shows the BBC produces.
One drawback of the update is the undermining of BritBox, a streaming platform the BBC has created in cooperation with ITV. The platform will cost £5.99 a month when it launches in the UK but the BBC, in updating iPlayer and launching BritBox simultaneously, will essentially be creating even more competition and confusion, (as if there wasn’t already enough).
The other worry is that a move towards streaming may alienate older viewers. Many already expressed concern, and even outrage, when the BBC Radio App was replaced with BBC Sounds in September.
This is the latest in a line of iPlayer updates and re-imaginings but, it seems, the execution of this particular update is crucial. As competition in the market is growing so quickly, the BBC needs to get this right. As of yet there’s no firm date on when the updates will take effect.