BBC Launches TV-Friendlier iPlayer

Following in the wake of launching an iPlayer service for outside the UK, the BBC has announced a new iPlayer version that’s fine-tuned for use on TV sets.

It wants to cater to the many consumers that are becoming accustomed to watching Internet-delivered videos on their TV sets. Smart TVs, game consoles like the Sony Playstation, Blu-ray players and smart TV adapters like Apple TV are beginning to sell well in the UK and the original iPlayer, when implemented on them, did not take advantage of the big screen and lean-back viewing experience.

The BBC will also need an appealing iPlayer app on CE devices in the States.

It has been popular on smartphones and PCs but consumers’ viewing habits for online content now include the TV set. About 1.7 billion programs were viewed on the iPlayer last year, with 8 million weekly users last month, about 21% of the UK’s broadband users.

Only Google’s YouTube gets more online video requests.

The TV version can be operated with the user’s TV remote. There are better personalization features like remembering searches and short cuts for accessing frequently viewed shows.

“It feels like TV,” said Gideon Summerfield, the BBC’s executive product manager for iPlayer on TV. “It’s much easier to use and it’s more personal. It’s designed from the ground up for televisions. ”

In a signal to the over-35 crowd, the BBC said it will add more shows from its archives to the iPlayer and make them available for longer than the typical seven-day window. It’s about time!

Daniel Danker, the BBC’s general manager of programs and on-demand said the BBC is well aware of the iPlayer’s existing popularity on TV sets. He said the iPlayer is already available on over 300 connected TVs and Blu-Ray disc players, which “has resulted in a five times growth of iPlayer on TV over the last six months alone.” He said that at that rate of growth, over half of iPlayer use could be in the living room “in the next few years.”

The new version will also support devices better with video streams in different formats and resolutions.

“We are bringing the iPlayer to its natural habitat,” Danker said. “We wanted to make using the iPlayer on TV as easy as channel flipping.”

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