BBC has launched a new version of its iPlayer catch-up and on-demand streaming service.
The iPlayer service launched just over six years ago and has moved onto reach 10 million requests per day. The new BBC iPlayer is available via web on any device now while the mobile app for smartphones and tablets will be 'updated with the new interface in the coming months'.
"A major focus of this release is making it easier to find something to watch, helping you quickly and easily find the programmes you know you’re looking for and, crucially, helping you discover something new. The current iPlayer’s pretty good if you know what you want to watch, but we know that 42% of visitors are now coming without a particular programme in mind." said Dan Taylor, head of BBC iPlayer.
New BBC iPlayer: Features
The BBC said the new web iPlayer has been developed to adapt to different screens so the experience will be consistent across PC, TV, smartphone and tablet – reacting to various screen sizes.
A new image-led experience has been brought to the home screen, channels and categories providing a 'simpler and easier' experience. Hovering over a programme displays a short description of the episode, its duration and when it was first shown.
Responding to user feedback, The BBC has replaced the Factual genre with one which 'users talk about when describing their TV viewing habits'. These are: Documentaries, Food, Arts, History and Science & Nature.
Collections are a new feature with the latest version of iPlayer. This will aid the discovery of programmes by grouping shows into series, seasons, event or themes.
The playback page has also been optimised with better information and more options.
The new iPlayer uses the BBC's new 'Standard Media Player' which, "as well as providing our best ever playback experience across screens, also enables us to develop plug-ins to enhance the playback experience".
Once you've finished watching a show, if the next episode is available it will be queued up and suggestions will be made with an improved recommendation engine.
For those who know exactly what programme they want to watch, the new Find tools will help you out. A 'Find a programme' search box remembers searches and makes suggestions as you type but you can also search by the A-Z list. There's also a 'Recently Watched' section.
The BBC has also announces new content which includes the following iPlayer commissions.
• Original Comedy Shorts – seven original comedies from the likes of Frankie Boyle, Bob Mortimer, Meera Syal, Morgana Robinson, Micky Flanagan, Matt Berry and Stewart Lee. Available on BBC iPlayer from May 2014
• Acclaimed journalist and storyteller Adam Curtis will bring iPlayer a radical vision of contemporary Britain, exploring the themes of hypocrisy, deception and corruption with his iPlayer trilogy: Out There, At The Mountains Of Madness and Dream Baby Dream. Available on BBC iPlayer from July 2014.
• A guided tour of Matisse The Cut-Outs Exhibition at Tate Modern by musician and artist Goldie. Available on BBC iPlayer from April 2014
• The new series premiere of People Just Do Nothing, a show born on BBC iPlayer through the first batch of BBC Three ‘Comedy Feeds’. Available on BBC iPlayer from May 2014
• BBC Four: Great War Interviews Collection - 13 previously unseen full-length interviews with war veterans and civilians, curated by Sir Max Hastings. Available on BBC iPlayer from today
• An exclusive BBC iPlayer film ‘My God, It’s Full Of Fans' to accompany the BBC Two series on the history of science fiction My God, It’s Full Of Stars. Coming soon to BBC iPlayer
• A Chelsea Flower Show collection – a collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society that takes viewers on an exclusive in-depth tour of the show gardens. Available on BBC iPlayer in May.
Going forward, the BBC has plans to extend the availability window from 7- to 30 days and introduce IP only channels like 'Radio 1 video channel'. It also wants to add personalisation features.