BBC launches redesigned iPlayer video-on-demand service

The BBC launches the latest version of its video-on-demand service with improved navigation and recommendation features and sign-in function

The BBC has launched the latest version of its iPlayer video-on-demand service.

The BBC redesigned the iPlayer platform “from the ground up” redesigning the look and feel of the interface and improving the way users navigate the website to find shows and discover new content.

Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, said: "This is an exciting day for us. BBC iPlayer is really popular, and new iPlayer will be even better.

"You’ll be able to find so many more programmes you might like – and I hope everyone enjoys the new design. It’s just a first step to re-inventing the BBC iPlayer, the best online television service in the world.”

The BBC is using data analytics to improve its recommendation engine that suggests content to users, depending on what they have viewed before. The new iPlayer will also feature a sign-in functionality, which will allow users to save favourite TV shows and seamlessly pick up programmes on multiple devices.

Dan Taylor, head of BBC iPlayer, said the broadcaster was “playing catch-up” in offering a sign up service, compared with other organisations.

The new look and feel of the BBC iPlayer

  • A consistent, optimised, responsive design;
  • More advanced recommendations – helping the 42% of BBC iPlayer users who come to iPlayer with nothing in mind to watch;
  • Smarter search – If you want Top Gear, type "To" and BBC iPlayer will predict your search and offer options – making it easier to find what you want;
  • Collections – groups of programmes clustered around events, themes or moments in time – that allows you to find more of the content that matters to you;
  • Improved access to channels and categories, with both given more prominence – all branded with channel colours and logos;
  • Image-led navigation;
  • Improved playback experience;
  • A favourites section that updates with the latest episodes available to watch. Recently watched and searched options allow easy access to programmes you have recently viewed and searched for, and a feature to resume play allows you to pick up an episode where you left off.

Focus on individual tastes

The sign-in functionality is already used across the BBC. BBC ID is used for BBC Playlister, where users can produce music playlists, and BBC Food where users can save recipes to binders. Users who have an existing BBC ID will be able to use those sign-in details to access extra iPlayer functionalities.

Taylor said the redesign will make it easier for users to find something to watch, as 42% of users arrive at iPlayer without a particular programme in mind. And with the added BBC ID capabilities, BBC iPlayer will have more knowledge about the user.

But the BBC said it intends the iPlayer to uphold a “gold standard of privacy and data security”. The broadcaster emphasised that the collected data will not be used for anything but improving content experiences and recommendations.

Since its launch on Christmas Day 2007, iPlayer has grown to become available on over 1,000 devices, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops and PCs. The iPlayer app has been downloaded over 28 million times and, in January 2014 alone, there were 315 million requests, an average of over 10 million per day. 

YouGov named the BBC iPlayer as the UK’s number one brand and over 10 billion programmes have been requested in its six-year history, 3 billion of them in 2013 alone.

The redesigned iPlayer will roll out from 11 March 2014 as an opt-in preview on computers, tablets, mobile browsers and a range of connected TVs. In coming months the BBC iPlayer mobile and tablet apps will be updated to keep a consistent experience across greater numbers of devices.

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