BBC launches new beta version of iPlayer

MUMBAI: UK pubcaster The BBC has announced the launch of a new beta version of its on-demand website BBC iPlayer, with a fresh new look and functionality to make it simpler, more personal and connected.

Since its 2007 launch, the product has evolved to add radio, live TV channels, HD and functionality such as recommendations. It has been repurposed to work on a range of different devices and platforms – reaching mobile phones, games consoles and internet-connected TVs.
It has delivered 123 million streams of TV and radio programmes in April 2010.

It has re-launched with a raft of new features – including a simplified and intuitive user-experience that will make content even easier to find, enhanced personalisation that allows audiences to create their own BBC iPlayer experience, and social functionality that will allow audiences to share and recommend content to friends on Facebook, Twitter and within BBC iPlayer.

BBC director of Future Media and Technology Erik Huggers says, "The launch of this version of the BBC iPlayer is part of our strategy to do fewer things even better and make it more simple, personal and connected. We must no longer try to do everything online, but focus on delivering genuinely world-class products like BBC iPlayer – which audiences love and which really embodies the BBC‘s core mission in a digital age.

"Bringing the benefits of emerging technologies to the public is in the BBC‘s DNA as its sixth public purpose. BBC iPlayer gives audiences greater control over the programmes they enjoy, guarantees subscription-free access to BBC content in an on-demand world, and provides better value for the content they have already paid for.

"In two and half years BBC iPlayer has evolved to become one of our most popular websites, integral to BBC Online, and available on a wide range of internet-connected devices."
Setting boundaries and driving innovation through partnership: The BBC has also announced a range of new non- exclusive partnerships which enable audiences to connect with each other around BBC programmes and make BBC content more discoverable.
Collaborations with social networking and micro-blogging websites, initially Facebook and Twitter, will enable audiences to recommend content to friends on their own networks. The BBC is working with others with a view to establishing further similar partnerships. This is the first major part of a wider initiative to introduce more social features to BBC Online.

Facebook VP for Europe, Middle East and Africa Joanna Shields says, "The BBC‘s use of Facebook‘s social plug-ins transforms BBC iPlayer into a customised social experience for each of our 23 million UK users. By integrating Facebook within BBC iPlayer, the BBC is enabling people to share their favourite content and discover the content their friends are recommending and watching."

A partnership with Microsoft allows Windows Live Messenger users to log in to their messaging service through BBC iPlayer, enabling them to invite other contacts to watch programmes at the same time and chat live. This is an experimental feature, which will be available in beta later in the Summer; if it proves successful, the BBC plans to extend it to other instant messaging services.

Later in the year, audiences will also be able to find links to programmes from ITV Player, 4oD, Clic, Demand Five and SeeSaw – as a result of partnership deals with public service broadcasters ITV, Channel 4, S4C and Five, and communications infrastructure and media services company Arqiva.

These "metadata partnerships" mean that audiences looking for long-form programmes from other TV services will be directed to their websites: BBC iPlayer will link and drive traffic to them, without any sharing of technology or syndication of content.

Huggers adds, "As we focus on what public service means in a digital age, we are working to set clear boundaries for BBC Online. We don‘t want to build a social network, microblogging or instant messaging service.

"But through a greater emphasis on strategic partnerships, we can harness the benefits of the web to enrich the audience‘s interaction with our content and support other content providers. The new BBC iPlayer reflects public service broadcasting in the digital era."

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