The BBC will this week introduce the new online version of the BBC iPlayer that has been in Beta since May. Behind the changes is a desire to introduce more personalization and links to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. TV and radio elements of the iPlayer have been separated and there are fewer ‘modules’.
The changes have had mixed reviews, though the BBC says that the majority of the 8% of its existing user base that have tried the upgraded version said they liked the new design and found it easier to discover and play programmes on the catch-up service.
A number of features dropped in the original beta have been restored after criticism from users. These include the pop-out TV player, the ability to select regional versions of BBC One and Two, while the linking of Facebook and Twitter accounts to the BBC ID has been streamlined.
The BBC is continuing to work on problems that have resulted in additional buffering caused by the introduction of a new adaptive bitrate streaming solution when the stream switches from one Content Delivery Network (CDN) to another.
Among the new features that have been introduced is the ability to watch live TV from the iPlayer Desktop without the need to return to the iPlayer website. It is now also possible to download programmes ahead of their linear broadcast, so they are ready to play immediately after transmission.
Users of the beta site, which in the past few weeks have risen to 10% of users, play marginally more programmes per day than users of the regular site (2.4 against 2.3). 18,000 users have signed up to the social features of the site, linking to Facebook and Twitter.
The BBC’s week did not get off to a good start after a network problem took down parts of its website, including the iPlayer, for several hours on Sunday afternoon.