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BBC announces new iPlayer

11 March 2014
BBC announces new iPlayer

In the wake of the BBC’s decision to move BBC3 online, the Corporation has announced a new version of the iPlayer for the web and for TV. BBC iPlayer mobile and tablet apps will be updated with the new interface in the coming months.

The new iPlayer has been updated for better multiscreen integration. Dan Taylor, head of BBC iPlayer, said on his blog, “The new iPlayer has been designed for a multiscreen world, so the experience is consistent, but optimised across PC, tablet, mobile and TV devices, and we’ve built it in such a way that we can rapidly develop and release new features across those four screens.”

A new addition to the iPlayer is a Collections function, which groups programmes by series, season, event or theme. Said Taylor, “BBC Four has been releasing themed archive collections for the last few years but they’ve been difficult to find in iPlayer. The new iPlayer enables us to showcase those collections on an ongoing basis.”

The Playback page has also been updated with an improved recommendation engine and on-the-fly Favourites addition. Find tools have also been updated and feature predictive searches as well as remembering recent searches. 

The new web version has been developed with responsive design so it will operate cleanly across multiple different screen sizes without requiring separate builds for each screen. The new redesigned home screen is simpler with a consistent navigation bar along the top, providing easier access to channels and categories. The BBC has incorporated user feedback in updating genre categories too.

“We’ve been testing it with users,” said Taylor, “and I’m pleased to say that they’ve been telling us it’s ‘simple’, ‘clearer’, ‘easier’, ‘more expansive’, and ‘just better’. Critically, they’ve also been telling us that they’ve been discovering programmes they wouldn’t previously have found.”

On her blog, Victoria Jaye, BBC’s head of TV content, BBC iPlayer, emphasised the creative potential in the iPlayer, seeing it as more than just a passive viewing platform. “We want BBC iPlayer to be the place that showcases the best in British creativity. There are three key areas of creative innovation we’ll be focusing on in the coming months: New Talent Opportunities, New Forms of Storytelling, New Ways of Collaborating.”

Simultaneously with the announcement, three original drama shorts went live on iPlayer, Flea, Tag and My Jihad. “These are not pilots, they are authored films, written and directed by up and coming writers and directors,” wrote Jaye, “BBC iPlayer is consolidating its reputation as a new creative canvas for storytelling.”

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