BBC iPlayer Beta: What we did with your feedback
I'm David Blackall and I look after all new website feature offerings for BBC iPlayer on PC, Mac and Linux.
We've been running the latest version of BBC iPlayer in beta since May this year. About 8% of our existing user base has opted to use the beta version which is a good result.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to give us feedback on our message boards and blogs. Although the product was extensively user-tested prior to going live there is nothing like a beta to give you feedback in the real world. From the feedback, we're happy that 75% of our beta users preferred the new site to the existing version. This is a great result because the existing version is one of the most popular sites on bbc.co.uk.
In terms of feedback the majority of our users have told us that they like the new design and find it easier to discover and play programmes.
For the first time you can now watch and listen to live TV and Radio directly from BBC iPlayer Desktop, without needing to go back to the BBC iPlayer website. In addition you can now download your favourite TV programmes before they are available to watch on TV, so that they are ready to watch once the programme ends on TV.
We have listened to and acted upon your feedback including reinstating:
• The ability to play radio content in the BBC iPlayer site, as opposed to having to use a pop-out console. This allows radio listeners to recommend and comment on their favourite shows
• The TV pop-out player
• The ability to choose your local region selector for BBC One and Two
• The process of linking to Facebook and Twitter accounts to BBC ID has been streamlined with more improvements coming in the weeks ahead
• International visitors to the site now default to the radio homepage, as opposed to the TV version so that they can start playing programmes immediately
We have experienced some issues during the beta including:
• Some users experiencing additional buffering upon playout. This is a result of issues regarding our new adaptive bitrate streaming solution when the stream switches from one Content Delivery Network (CDN) to another. The team is working hard to improve this
• The latest version of BBC iPlayer Desktop has also had some teething problems with occasional content going missing after it has been downloaded. This should be resolved by launch day and we will continue to monitor and put right any issues
• As yet we have not been able to deliver the ability to download future episodes of your favourite programmes. This will be coming shortly.
Our users have also suggested new features which we're happy to hear, so please keep them rolling in. These include:
• Being able to remove a favourite episode from your list once you have played it
• Stopping programme recommendations
• Enhancements to favourites to alert you when your favourite programmes are due to return
• Remember the last page layout when you next return to the site
We will look to include as many of these suggestions into the site in the coming months.
Now is the perfect time for coming out of beta as it is the end of a busy summer for the BBC, and now the autumn schedule is about to kick in with fantastic new programmes.
David Blackall is Lead Business Analyst, BBC iPlayer.