A Redesigned BBC iPlayer Launches Today

By Gerald Lynch on at

The BBC has today announced the launch of a revamped iPlayer catch-up service, rolling out today.

iPlayer has been rebuilt from the ground up, optimized and consistent across multiple devices and screen sizes. A new homescreen will deliver an "image-led experience", with a responsive design that adapts dependant upon your viewing device of choice. Individual channels will also feature new-look landing pages, with larger images acting as teases to would-be viewers. A new navigation bar also offers auto-complete search results, based on the first few letters you enter, while a drop-down categories list has been tweaked to include more natural, intuitive programming demarcations. There's also an A-Z program list, again drop down, if you know exactly what you're looking for.

A full 7-day EPG has also been added, letting you look forwards and backwards a week and access broadcasted shows -- much like YouView. "Collections" will act like boxsets, pulling together shows based on series, themed seasons or current events.

The playback page has also been given a makeover, with buttons to watch in HD, or with subtitles, as well as download options, now being far more prominent. Moving from one show to another within a series is now seamless too, with a user looking to jump to a fresh episode not requiring a full browser refresh to do so. Gone is the option to "watch this episode again" (who the hell ever used that?), replaced with the option to move on directly to the next episode in a series or a recommended show. Recommended shows will rely upon a user signing in, with the BBC collecting data on your viewing habits to tailor suggestions. Once playback begins, the BBC now "dim the lights" too if you're not viewing in full screen mode, slowly hiding the text and other distractions sitting around the video playback pane.

An increasing amount of iPlayer-exclusive content will also feature, with more TV shows airing on the online platform ahead of their terrestrial TV broadcast.

The revamped streaming offering comes hot on the heels of the BBC's announcement that its BBC3 TV channel is set to become an iPlayer-only offering, with the company looking to save some £100 million by making the channel's programming exclusively online.

"This is a staging post -- this journey will never end", said BBC Director General Tony Hall of the iPlayer's evolution. "Last week's announcement of the BBC3 changes will push the creative development of iPlayer increasingly to the fore. We will use the power of the iPlayer to deliver some very, very new and creative ideas.

"We want to make sure in future that the iPlayer delivers new forms of content, displays more information on screen, a richer palette than what's possible with traditional broadcasting.

"For me, the iPlayer is a metaphor for the entire BBC, a platform to inform, educate and entertain."

iPlayer already receives more than 10 million stream requests daily. With more and more viewers turning to catch-up services to get their fix of the BBC's shows, the Beeb is looking to continue to lead from the front with its online offering.

The roll-out will begin with the mobile website, with an opt-in beta option available on computers. Smart TV changes are good to go too.