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October BBC iPlayer monthly performance pack

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 09:17 UK time, Friday, 12 November 2010

The BBC iPlayer stats pack for October 2010 is now available as a PDF

My colleagues in the Communications team in BBC FM&T have got a little excited, as you can see from the highlights they've picked out:

A great month for BBC iPlayer - receiving 139 million requests for programmes across all platforms in October 2010, including both online platforms and devices and BBC iPlayer on Virgin Media TV. This is a month-on-month increase of 22%, with requests up 43% year-on-year. The figures set a new monthly record for the service, driven by an all-time-high for TV requests on online platforms and Virgin Media.

Returning autumn titles boosted TV performance, including The Apprentice and Waterloo Road, as well as new drama series Single Father and Lip Service. Comedy also delivered strongly as usual, including Mock the Week and Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

The Ryder Cup was the most requested radio programme, with a range of programmes from across Radio 1, 2, 4 and 5Live making up the remainder of the top 20 - including The Unbelievable Truth, The News Quiz, and special Radio 1 programmes ...Presents Mumford & Sons Live and Fearne with Robbie and Gary, performing well.

Live TV viewing via the BBC iPlayer increased again this month, to make up 11% of all TV programme requests, as also did live radio listening (making up 72%) - influenced primarily by the Ryder Cup.

Nick Reynolds is Social Media Executive, BBC Online


  • Comment number 1.

    Still wondering when full screen video on the Desktop player for linear channels, as indicated would happen when the 'new' version of the player was launched in Beta will be available.

  • Comment number 2.

    I really wish we could know how many people are using iPlayer via MHEG, many people have spent hundreds of hours working on it and yet we don't even know if people are actually using it!!

    I've griped to those that I know at the BBC before but never found out anything (even unofficially).

  • Comment number 3.

    I presume by using 'via MHEG' you mean via the big screen option via Games Consoles, TVs and BR players driven by the Internet. I am using it extensively and I'm sure if the retail environment were to demonstrate it in store, then many many more would.

  • Comment number 4.

    Nick can you tell us how many of these millions of iPlayer hits are where users failed to view the whole programme? Another poster alerted us the the situation of the statistics being misleading as they included multiple hits from the same people all trying to view programmes that were subject to the iPlayer bugs that time-limited programmes prematurely. Surely any statistic that includes a period when a platform is not working properly should be flagged as suspect? Otherwise it is very misleading.

  • Comment number 5.

    Looking at the use of the word "requests" makes me wonder why you have not quoted "watched" -Two very different measures of iPlayer success.

  • Comment number 6.

    OfficerDibble: here's the definition of "requests" taken from the glossary in the pack:

    "Requests–number of successful requests to stream or download a programme. We only count successful requests, where a stream or a download actually start, rather than “clicks” which can be repeated if the user does not see an immediate reaction on the website."

  • Comment number 7.

    But does that mean the stream starts and the programme is viewed completely (or near complete)? There are very many recent reports of the iPlayer being slow and unusable where people click to play and it does plays but does not stream properly and they try repeated times to stream it again. This would mean multiple "requests" but not playing a stream to audience satisfaction. Excuse my cynicism but I am so wary of PR pieces that use a measure that is different to the normal "programmes watched" - in such instances I ask myself why a PR piece uses such terms.

  • Comment number 8.

    Looking at the graphs there is a definite trend to the iPlayer usage across the timeline... except for the last month October where a blip that is completely out of trend and that is much too high to be explained by seasonal variations, or a new platform coming on stream.

    Does anyone have an answer to why October was substantially higher than the previous month? Surely a statistician would question that inorganic growth figure? Did anything occur technically to cause that blip? Was there the introduction of new variant of iplayer? and if so, why would that account for driving more traffic?

    Or, as is more likely, the new variant was introduced and many users started and restarted their streams multiple times... causing a misleading blip. Maybe the November figures will show a fall as users abandon the platform until it is fixed.

  • Comment number 9.

    The true test would be to see if the average stream viewing time dropped significantly during October.

  • Comment number 10.

    Delving a bit deeper a looked at the weekly stats and the significant uplift is seen around Sept 13.

    That co-incides with the rollout of V3 of the iPlayer. So I can't believe loads more new users would near instantaneously log on and find iPlayer, then the uplift must be existing users. Anecdotal evidence


    suggests an awful lot of people tried it and went back to the old variant. Others post of trouble with the streams and in all likelihood made multiple requests before giving up as the streams were unwatchable.

    So without any evidence to explain the October blip, I would conclude that the "Communications team in BBC FM&T have got a little excited" is a rash presumption and perhaps they should look to finding a reason, and maybe take more notice of the answer evident in the volume of the buzz that is well documented throughout the blogs and boards.

  • Comment number 11.

    PS This is not unprecedented either... in Mid June there was a similar 10% blip that is marked in the statistics as double counting due to a similar technical failure. It only needs for 1 in 10 viewers reloading their stream to see if the buffering stops to cause such a blip.

  • Comment number 12.

    I note your conspicuous silence on this subject. BBC Radio 4 Feedback covered the unpopular iPlayer "upgrade" on Nov. 19th podcast (not iPlayer!)- how come that well documented issue is not mentioned in your publicising of a PDF of stats. that tells a conflicting story to the experience of the users? What about balance? Such headlines celebrating the blind acceptance of stats just makes it look silly in the eyes of the real users of the service.

  • Comment number 13.

    looking at the summary in your Blog it could so easily be interpreted in a different yet equally correct way: "A very poor month for iPlayer - despite our best efforts we can't explain why there is an abnormal spike in the stats of requests. it co-incides with a marked downturn in the number of programmes viewed "complete"- this co-incides with a roll-out of the new software which may indicate it might have a few bugs. Thirdly the forums are alight with dissent from the users about the very unpopular changes, many users asking for the old version to be brought back, as well as downloaded videos having incorrect expiry dates requiring them to be downloaded again - rendering our stats unrelaible. Clearly our testing did not reveal the problems before launch, again. All in all a disappointing week, but we are looking forward to the eagerly awaitied Messgaeboard upgrades next week!"

  • Comment number 14.

    OfficerDibble - balance is provided on this blog by, among other things, comments. We also link to all sides of the argument and showcase content which is critical of the BBC (e.g. the Feedback programme). Regular readers of this blog will be well aware of the arguments around iPlayer.


  • Comment number 15.

    I don't see balance in your original blog. Our comments are just about tolerated but never addressed by the people involved . There is no balance in the Categories " links below.. those are picked to reflect your PR agenda. Where do I go to lodge my comments about iPlayer? Where is there an iPlayer board? has it been closed?

  • Comment number 16.

    OfficerDibble - I don't work for the communications team and I don't have a "PR agenda". Categories are chosen on an editorial basis, i.e. these are the categories which I think are most relevant to the interests of the people who read the blog. There are blog posts still open about iPlayer and if you prefer the iPlayer message board it is here:


    This is drifting off topic. Please stay on topic.


  • Comment number 17.

    Well I am a user of this blog (and apparently the one with most interest in this subject so you are supposed to be selecting for me- your small audience) and I want the truth and to read articles with balance and so you would expect that any blog about recent Iplayer "success" would mention the much greater matter of the public's reaction to the update. And that is why it is doubly frustrating to find that links that may provide additional info or balance are also selected by you, rather than selected by "buzz" or popularity.

  • Comment number 18.

    In the interests of balance, where is "feedback" in the categories list?
    Where is the link to the feedback programme?
    Where is the link to the iPlayer forum thread that lists the audience reaction and comments on the new iPlayer?

  • Comment number 19.

    OfficerDibble -

    There is a prominent link on the right hand side of this blog to the BBC iPlayer message board. From time to time I have linked in round ups and delicious to material about iPlayer both positive and critical from the message board and elsewhere. I link to the Feedback programme when it contains material relevant to the remit of this blog.

    This is turning into an argument about how this blog is run and is therefore off topic. Any more comments in this vein will be removed.


  • Comment number 20.

    Ok on topic.
    The crux of your blog was the upswing in traffic to new iPlayer. Will anyone answer my statement that the spike is a statistical anomoly caused by the iPlayer bugs?


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