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Introducing the Next Level for BBC iPlayer

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Simon Lloyd Simon Lloyd | 16:15 UK time, Friday, 10 September 2010

As you may know, the new-look BBC iPlayer went live this week after a four-month trial period. It's an evolution of one of our most popular digital services, adding more functionality but making it simpler to use at the same time. Tomorrow, our communications will evolve too with the launch of a new marketing campaign - BBC iPlayer: The Next Level. You can view the first trail below.

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I wanted to provide a little bit of background to how we got here.
BBC iPlayer has been a huge success since it launched in 2007, under the banner of "making the unmissable, unmissable". At the time, the market for video-on-demand was in its infancy, and the challenge for us was to explain to a mainstream TV audience what BBC iPlayer was. It was a multiple award-winning campaign, and played a part in establishing BBC iPlayer as the best in its class.

But the world has changed since then. Video-on-demand services are everywhere and lots of people have digital video recorders. Social media went mainstream, and while we have attracted a large audience to BBC iPlayer there are plenty of people who don't use it.

The science - talking to people
So this is the challenge I inherited when I joined the BBC last year - and first you have to find out where BBC iPlayer sits in people's lives, through focus groups and research.

First, we found that while people love what BBC iPlayer can do, our marketing messages were beginning to have less impact. Until now we've focused on the functional "you can catch up on programmes" but it was clear that we needed to connect with people on an emotional level, rather than a functional level.
Second, while people love the programmes (the most important part of the BBC iPlayer experience, and what resonates with people more than anything else) using the programmes themselves to promote the BBC iPlayer experience wasn't really conveying what's so good about BBC iPlayer itself. Some people thought it was just another programme trail. This campaign needed to be about the experience.

Finally, we needed to move on from the tag of "catch-up". Three years ago it was a major selling point, but now it's a commodity in a crowded market. Nor does it really capture what BBC iPlayer has become. In a world of plus-one channels and PVRs, catching up isn't nearly as hard as it used to be.
So, while people are interested in the fact that you can access the last seven days' programmes through a website, it was the empowerment factor that really connected: creating a TV and radio experience on your own terms, and the ability to discover great programmes you may not have been looking for. And that's why this campaign feels very different to those that ran before - we are trying to tell people how using BBC iPlayer makes you feel, beyond simply what it does.

The campaign
We have created a theme (based on a portal) which is built to last.
It starts tomorrow with the first broadcast of the trailer above. At this stage, we're simply trying to attract a bit of attention to the fact that BBC iPlayer has changed. It picks up on the idea that if you've not yet seen BBC iPlayer, rather than just being a "catch-up service" - it's a complete entertainment destination. A whole new world, that's worth a look, if you like.

Two weeks later, we'll have some more TV trails and the start of the Radio campaign, that will start to explain what's on the other side of the portal, explaining the benefits of the features audiences told us they wanted the most - e.g. favourites, recommendations - as well as elements that are really important for parents (such as the parental lock). Soon after that, an online marketing campaign will start to complement what we're doing on air.

Of course we don't expect people to be able to judge a campaign on just one trail (that you can embed from here) and the team will be posting all the other trails on the BBC's YouTube channel in coming weeks. But we'd love to know what you think so far.
Simon Lloyd is Director of Marketing for the BBC's Future Media & Technology division

  • Editor's note - credits for the trail:

    BBC Marketing - Simon Lloyd, Terry McGrath & Helen Weeks; Agency - RKCR/Y&R; Creative Director - Mark Roalfe; Creatives - Dan Hubert & Amber Casey; Director - Mario Zozin; Production Company - Red Bee Media; Producer - Louise Jones;

    Production Manager - Emily Simpson; Editing House - The Quarry; Editor - Jonnie Scarlett;
    Post Production - Framestore; Flame Op - Jude Roberts; Audio - Wave; Composer - Tam Nightingale.


  • Comment number 1.

    Some people thought it was just another programme trail. This campaign needed to be about the experience.

    This one definitely looks like a programme trail: a programme called “The Next Level” which is featured on iPlayer. Admittedly, I had the sound off, so there might have been some audible nuance I missed.

    I am curious about this:

    First, we found that while people love what BBC iPlayer can do, our marketing messages were beginning to have less impact.

    Does this mean usage was dropping off, or that usage levels were great but not remembering the campaign itself? (i.e., the marketing worked but wasn't memorable as a marketing campaign)? If the latter, what — in real terms — is the issue?

  • Comment number 2.


    The iPlayer is brilliant, big cheers to all the team.

    I have one suggestion for improvement: full screen in Safari on the iPad could be enabled by adding the following tag for the appropriate user-agents:


  • Comment number 3.

    You're moving on from "catch-up"? That's great news! Though, it does seem odd that you're using a documentary from 2007 to advertise your new campaign. Is that to emphasis that we can now watch programmes whenever we want to, rather than only in the week it was broadcast?

  • Comment number 4.

    Well, you have certainly engaged with people on a an emotional level - lots of people hate the new look AND lack of functionality.

    Seems like you've been sold a line by some company about connecting with viewers. All I want is to be connected to good programming and catch up or find things I haven't been aware of. Please, I and many other have no want to get all emotional with you we just want good functionality which you have removed.

    Hence, since the update I have used iPlayer once...I'll be making sure I do not miss the next episodes live...might be time for me to get Sky+ even though I do not like the company...drive away core users at your peril just for looking hip...

  • Comment number 5.

    Up to about 6 months ago the iplayer was brilliant. Now I hardly use it because the quality is so bad. When I stream and download programmes the picture is jumpy and there is a lag between sound and picture that gets worse the longer the programme plays. I have discovered everything is fine if I download a programme to windows media player but it is not possible to download all programmes. I don't see much point in advertising the iplayer until these problems are solved

  • Comment number 6.

    I loved the simple and quick to use programme location by Channel then by page. I do not like having to click on each day and scroll through each...its time wasted. What happened to visitor centered website?

    Do not make assumptions that YOUR choice of Feature, For You, Most Popular and Friends reflect my interests - they don't.

    All I want is simply to access each channel and locate what I want to view. This needs to be at the top of the page-like the previous website.

  • Comment number 7.

    If it ain't broke don't fix it. One of my favourite things when visiting the iPlayer was to simply display all the "Listen Again" progs on BBC7, in alphabetical order, and choose one at random to listen to while working. After trying unsuccessfully to find this today I gave up and listened to a CD instead. Change for change's sake. Quite agree with 3Dots above - you really can't afford to alienate your most loyal supporters. Also, as a Mac G4 user, I simply do not accept the BBC's explanation about not being possible to make TV programmes play back properly on Power-PC-based Macs. It's just basically laziness and an attempt to make us all conform to the Microsoft view of what the world should be about. Sorry, but D minus for effort, need to try much harder and pay less attention to the trendy jargon merchants.

  • Comment number 8.

    I hate the new IPlayer, would it be possible to change back to the older version?

  • Comment number 9.

    Well you've certainly succeeded in "engaging me on a personal level". I regularly shout and swear at the jumpy and unwatchable playback.


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