BRITISH BROADCASTER The BBC has completely rebuilt its iPlayer on-demand and catch-up TV service "from the ground up", making it easier to find content across multiple devices with varying screen sizes while putting the soon non-terrestrial BBC Three channel at its core.
Speaking at a launch event in London today, the BBC head of iPlayer, Dan Taylor, said the service has been "built for the multi-screen world" of PCs, tablets, mobiles and connected TVs, and developed with "response design" that optimises the viewing experience for all screen sizes while allowing it to be updated without the need to build separate apps for different devices.
"In order to take iPlayer to the next level [...] we completely rebuilt iPlayer from the ground up," said Taylor. "The new iPlayer is built for the multi-screen world so it's optimsed but consistent across PC, TV, tablet and mobile, and we developed it in such a way so we can quickly and easily develop new features and roll them out across those four screens."
The service's homescreen and user interface (UI) has also been redesigned in order to make it more intuitive and simpler to find new content due to what the BBC said are 42 percent of iPlayer visitors coming to the service not knowing what they want to watch.
Content and information layout has also been enhanced so that it is presented more clearly and coherently for users, with updated TV categories that are more precise. For example, the bucket category that was Factual has been replaced with the more accurate sub-categories such as History, Nature and so on.
The new "image led" design means that featured content on the iPlayer homepage is laid out in blocks, with double-high images representing collections of TV shows such as series, seasons, events and themes to make it easier to differentiate between one-off TV shows and documentaries versus multi-episode assemblages.
For those 58 percent of users that the BBC said visit the service knowing what they want to watch, iPlayer's Programme Finder search has been updated to give instant results as key words are typed. There's also a full A-Z programme list where the user can look up the entire iPlayer inventory in alphabetical order.
There's also a new look Favourites section that updates with the latest episodes available to watch as well as Resume Play function that allows you to pick up an episode where you left off.
We had a chance to have a quick demo of the new app and on first impressions we discerned a vast improvement on the last version, with an overall simpler design that makes it much easier to navigate through the menus. We were also rather impressed by the new TV guide feature, which allows you to search all programming across seven days previous and seven days ahead to ensure that you can plan and not miss your favourite shows.
With the launch of iPlayer, the BBC has put its comedy channel BBC Three at its core, announcing a host of iPlayer-only drama shorts Flea, Tag and My Jihad, original films from young writers and emerging talent to help the BBC "move audiences to online viewing from TV viewing".
The British broadcaster announced just last week that its BBC Three channel will get the terrestrial chop and become an iPlayer-only service in the autumn of 2015. The broadcaster promised that BBC Three will not change as a result of moving online and that it will live "at the heart of iPlayer".
The reinvented version of iPlayer is available as an opt-in preview on computer, tablet and mobile web browsers as well as a range of connected TVs from today, and will roll out to mobile and tablets apps "in the coming months", the BBC said. µ