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BBC iPlayer Introduces Share Tools

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Dave Price Dave Price | 15:45 UK time, Thursday, 2 June 2011

A few weeks ago, we launched a new feature in BBC iPlayer: Series Record as part of our continuous evolution of BBC iPlayer. Yesterday we made some improvements to some of the social aspects of BBC iPlayer, with the launch of Share Tools.

Sharetools in BBC iPlayer

Sharetools on a BBC iPlayer page

Already rolled out to some other parts of BBC Online (e.g. BBC News, BBC Food, this blog), Share Tools make sharing content on iPlayer even easier.

Just look for the 'Share' icon underneath the player window, when you're watching or listening to any programme.



These allow you to share the page with your friends across Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

We've been listening to your feedback and analysing how the new site performs since we came out of beta last September. As a consequence, Share Tools replaces the 'recommend' option on playback pages, making it even easier to share programmes with your friends.

I hope you enjoy sharing your favourite programmes with friends and family.

Dave Price is Head of BBC iPlayer, Programmes and On Demand, BBC Future Media


  • Comment number 1.

    A great idea, but it aesthetically looks awful. It doesn't fit with the surroundings and the dialog box that pops up is just garish. Also, keeping track of how many times it was shared on each network is hugely unnecessary in my opinion.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am pleased to see improvements to the desktop version but when will the PS3 version start to see some of these changes??

  • Comment number 3.

    As usual with BBC it's Facebook and Twitter front and centre. It's as if the other social networks don't exist.

    Did anyone ever consider that the only reason these two are the most popular in the UK is because the BBC has been giving them constant, free advertising for the past couple of years?

  • Comment number 4.

    FishFingers that is the most ridiculously sweeping statement. Facebook and Twitter owe their entire UK success to the efforts of the BBC? What a load of b......s!

  • Comment number 5.

    have problem with bandwith lower and normal. can you solve this problem

  • Comment number 6.

    ...making it even easier to share programmes with your friends.

    What utter rubbish.

    I'm amazed it's taken you so long to realise this area of iPlayer never worked. Perhaps if you had taken notice of what commenters were saying at the time you went through and came out of beta, you might have realised your strategy was deeply misguided. Your incoming 'recommendations' tag function never worked as originally intended, i.e. filter friends' recommendations from external places. I now detect you have also given up any objective of aggregating incoming recommendations from friends. It is also clear that the importing of friends in the 'Your Friends' section (of the public profile page) isn't working properly either, so presumably that whole section is now moribund as well?

    Your whole social media strategy of a few months' ago is in tatters.


    P.S. As a consequence of what you have done, there are a bunch of pages that are now out of date: the (user public profile) 'manage friends and connections' page (since it has still got the 'tweet recommendations' choice box in the 'connection settings' section), and the whole of the help page associated with profile page.
  • Comment number 7.

    Being able to recommend or "share" a programme with a few "friends" is of exceedingly limited value. A far better feature would be the ability to globally recommend and review a programme. People could then go to the page for, say, Eastenders or Dr Who and see the number of people who liked / disliked each episode and read what they thought of it.

    Wouldn't it be great to be able to go to the web site for a particular programme and see what everyone is saying about it or, at least, how many liked or disliked it or, even better, see the number of likes and dislikes when you go to a programme's iPlayer page.

    This obsession with "social networking" is getting in the way of providing really useful features. You cannot just throw Twitter and Facebook links around and think "job done". You need to integrate the TV viewing community instead of attempting to outsource everything.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Russ - thanks for your feedback which I will pass on to the iPlayer team.

    After reading your comment I reread Ian Hunter's blog post of January which gave some insight into the BBC's social media strategy. Having read it I think it's an exaggeration to say that the strategy is "in tatters". The strategy expressed as simply as possible is "to make the whole of BBC Online more social". That hasn't changed.

    It would be accurate to say that recommendations in iPlayer, one the things intended to achieve that strategy, hasn't worked as well as hoped. So sharetools are a different way of achieving the same end i.e. trying to make the whole of the BBC Online more social.

    Eponymous Coward - the suggestion in your second paragraph feels a little bit like the Buzz feature being experimented with on programme pages. You can read about it here.


  • Comment number 9.

    @Nick Reynolds post 8
    Nick, you're right, the strategy isn't in tatters, it just doesn't exist. You, along with other managers have literally just gone on a slash and burn policy for BBC online with no reference to anyone elses view/opinions. Those who have voiced an opinion you've slapped down without bothering to take any opposing view into account. This rush to use Twitter and Facebook all the time smacks of 'tabloid do it so lets follow regardless'. Lemmings and cliffs come to mind here.
    In its rush to show to politicians that the BBC can make ends meet you wasted millions on the Salford project, you slashed virtually all online interactive content, from H2G2 to message boards and all this for what? Frankly nothing gained, very little in terms of cost saving, its all down to 'image' and a fear on the BBC's part of govt. and what they may or may not do in terms of more pressure. You've been forced into 'u'-turns on a lot of things recently, I suggest you go back to the drawing board with your slash and burn of BBC Online and its content.

  • Comment number 10.

    Testing_Times - the social media strategy does exist and if you read Ian's blog post you can see what it is. As for your other points the document that summarises the BBC Trust's approval of the BBC's plans for BBC Online might be of interest.


  • Comment number 11.

    Thanks for the links Nick. I have read all the relevant blogs/postings by users,editors and the trust and have come to the conclusion that, slash and burn may be a bit harsh but I'm still left with the impression that cuts are being made for the sake of it rather than to improve any interaction on the BBC's sites. There seems to be some contradictions in the reasons given for closure or disposal of sites. Knowledge and Learning appear to be the new 'mantra' yet you close areas where that happens. The impression left to users looking in is that the BBC have steered a path away from being unique and interesting to imitating and heading down a more Tabloid look and feel. It looks more like, 'lets keep up with the Jones' rather than do stuff thats different and wanted by Licence Fee payers. This constant referral to encourage users to use Twitter and Facebook is frankly a joke. You can't have a debate, you can't make any comments of note on either medium. The content that I've seen on twitter frankly borders on the moronic but with a 140 character limit its no surprise is it?
    It now looks like it'll be the Blog Editors and/or news editors online that dictate which blogs or news stories folk can comment on, frankly thats one step away from dictatorship. Its again, the BBC taking the easy option again instead of meeting and facing the real challeges. In essence, what the BBC is doing is restricting choice, restricting the very core of what you want to achieve, ie. a base for knowledge and learning, and all because senior management and the Trustees don't have the bottle to stand up to outside pressure.
    There's no shame in being different so why try to model yourself on a more tabloid, trashy look and feel?

  • Comment number 12.

    By the way, I would have posted some of post 11 above to the relevant blogs etc except said blogs are 'Closed' for comments. Says it all really.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Russ - thanks for your feedback which I will pass on to the iPlayer team.

    It's always reassuring to hear how keenly the iPlayer team follow their blogs, Nick.

    As for the sharetools "making the whole of the BBC Online more social", if you re-read Anthony Rose's iPlayer V3 introduction blog, in particular the section 'Challenge #2: Integrating social connectivity', I think we can all see that the social media strategy being implemented at that time is indeed now in tatters. All the underlying assumptions behind that aspect of V3 have proved to have been no more than mistaken or misguided hopes. Chief amongst these delusions was that "the twitterverse will become the new tastemaker". For anyone whose tastes extend beyond X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, The Apprentice, and what footballers get up to in their private lives, can anyone seriously defend that absurd stance now? It was explicit in Rose's vision, and subsequently in Ian Hunter's blog, that the BBC website should bypass the need to visit a 3rd party (social media) website by aggregrating both outgoing and incoming recommendations on the BBC website itself. Not only that, Ian Hunter saw this process as "a small start to something we plan to extend more widely". These plans have obviously fallen by the wayside. Furthermore, he acknowledged "When a user recommends something to his or her network of friends that is more likely to interest them than when the BBC makes the recommendation". The reality of twitter is that it has now been usurped for corporate purposes, with the BBC itself, as prime suspect, relentlessly pumping out tweet after tweet advertising every programme on its schedules. There is no conversation, there is no interaction, there is no enrichment of content. The twitterverse as 'tastemaker', or providing 'a better engagement with audiences'? Oh purlease, pull the other one. Notwithstanding your ongoing extermination of the messageboards (interestingly, the few that do survive are forbidden the new share tools, which I think confirms how bigoted the BBC's ideology is), it's no wonder communities wanting to converse about your programmes have moved elsewhere.

    In terms of delivering the Trust's stated public purposes, the current retrenchment on social media isn't delivering anything, let alone anything of quality.


    P.S. I note the blog omits mention why the 'For you' section has been ditched from the iPlayer front page.
  • Comment number 14.

    Testing_Times - I think we are drifting into off topic areas here, but I will just point out one thing. On the BBC News site BBC editors have always decided what stories should be discussed in comments - on the Have Your Say site the topics to be discussed was always chosen by a BBC person. So there's been no change.

    Regarding your other points you may also find this blog post from Erik Huggers in January of interest.

  • Comment number 15.

    Russ - you seem to be making a number of points.

    1. Twitter is not a "tastemaker".

    I don't think it can be denied that Twitter and more importantly Facebook are now big online presences where people share links about BBC content and talk about them to their friends. And it's not just about The X Factor. Question Time gets a fair amount of activity on Twitter. So I think Twitter can be regarded as a "tastemaker".

    2. "There is no conversation, there is no interaction". There is a lot of conversation on Facebook and Twitter about BBC programmes and content (e.g. the Chris Moyles Facebook page). "Engagement" is always a challenge (I prefer to call it "dialogue" these days), but there are plenty of examples of BBC people talking with licence fee payers on third party sites. The point is to get better dialogue whether on BBC Online (in a place like this blog) or elsewhere.

    As for aggregating recommendations I refer you to the link in my comment to Testing_Times about Buzz (which is still work in progress but has not "fallen by the wayside").

    But I think we are drifting off topic here - which is Share Tools on BBC iPlayer.


  • Comment number 16.

    The only problem I have is that I would like to be able to block programmes I don't like such as soaps although I am an avid listener to The Archers, its just a thought.

  • Comment number 17.

    There is a growing audience who not only enjoy watching BBC content but also like to share their comments during the broadcast (the most noted example probably being #bbcqt). This generates a wealth of additional content which the BBC could be tapping into to enhance the broadcast (for example using Tweets as away to provide an additional layer of navigation within the programme)

    I independently explored some of these ideas last year publishing Twitter powered subtitles for BBC iPlayer http://mashe.hawksey.info/2010/02/twitter-powered-subtitles-for-bbc-iplayer/ .

    I think an interesting extension of your share button would be to automatically add metadata to the share. So for example if someone is wants to share their view of a particular point within the programme the link either automatically jumps to the point in the programme timeline or includes a timestamp of the place they are referring to. Again, this is another concept I have independently explored http://mashe.hawksey.info/2010/06/convergence-youtube-meets-twitter-in-timeline-commenting-of-youtube-videos-using-twitter-utitle/

  • Comment number 18.

    As I expected share tools doesn't really work mainly because TV has not bought into to the product philosophy. I was interested in collecting up for viewing for month the justice series on BBC4. Have missed one or two I entered the next one which happened to be extracted from the Storyville thread. I have to two Storyville progs but none of the other progs allegedly in the series.

    The is nothing wrong with collecting up a group of programmes and their associated support material (after all 'Justice is a BBC OU production) but the 'product' must be designed to work with all platforms (the Player is just a platform) to deliver the series.

    So its back to recording them. (but they are gone now.)

    Now of course I suspect the product advocates don't see a collation of 'content' as a 'product', being hooked on 'manufacturing' metaphor. Just think of an old style work 'part work' in press publishing as a product, or an OU course.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    My last comment was meant for a different post. I have therefore moderated my own comment as being off-topic.


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