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iPlayer Day: The most exciting job of my career

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Morten Eidal | 19:30 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

I have been on the iPlayer project since the summer of 2006.

Over this time I have seen the project evolve from the first iPlayer release with TV downloads in December 2006, through 2007 with new interface designs and TV streaming, and this year topping it all with the iPlayer version 2 website, Network Radio, iPhone support, live simulcast TV, local radio, Welsh & Gaelic sites, just to mention a few.

And now we are heading to the last month of 2008 with a great promise of a new download manager for all computer platforms. What a fantastic year it has been. So, how do we top this in 2009? Have we not done all we can you might wonder? Well, - you wait and see...

Since I joined the iPlayer project, the single biggest impact on this project has been the arrival of Anthony Rose in September of 2007. After his arrival, there has been no lack of direction and priorities, and the product has taken a major leap forward. The fact that he also wants most of his new features delivered "tomorrow" is however a different matter...

In the early days of iPlayer we were building several key components from scratch, and our release cycles reflected this. 6+ months per release was common. As we now have en established system, we can ship with greater frequency - and we do!

We aim to get a release out the door every two weeks, so we can provide our ever-growing number of iPlayer users with newer and better ways of consuming our content. This means at anyone point in time we have three releases on the go, one being tested and prepped for release, the next one being developed, and the next one after that being planned. In other words, we like to keep busy!

As an iPlayer user, you only see the website and all the great BBC content we serve.

Behind the scenes there is however much more going on. There are upwards of 10 teams being involved in delivering the iPlayer and my main responsibility is to ensure our releases ship on time, and all the planned features are delivered. This requires that all these teams work towards a common goal, and that the right priorities are being followed. Ultimately, this becomes an exercise in getting people to work together. Technology does not deliver by itself, - people do.

To me personally, working on the iPlayer is the most exciting job of my career, both professionally and personally. How often do you find yourselves in a position where you can contribute to changing the publics viewing and listening habits? Letting them take control over their own spare time and at the same time be able to watch and listen to what they want when they want? That's what the iPlayer is about to me.

Morten Eidal is iPlayer Delivery Manager, BBC Future Media & Technology.



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