I'm Dave Price, head of BBC iPlayer.

Last month I wrote about iPlayer’s record breaking festive period with incredible performance driven by new mobile and tablets unwrapped on Christmas Day.

And it seems even with a return to work and school, these new devices have yet to be put down.


Last week we published the iPlayer performance pack for January which proved to be an exceptional month for TV programmes on iPlayer with 212 million requests across all devices and platforms, up +46% year on year.

However, it was TV requests from mobiles and tablet devices that rocketed in January, up +32% in just one month from December.

Popular programmes in January included Africa with 2.2 million requests for the first episode together with the return of Top Gear and Miranda with 1.8 million requests for some episodes.

And interestingly, for the first time ever we saw CBBC programmes regularly topping the daily most watched list with The Dumping Ground proving hugely appealing.

To date the BBC iPlayer app has been installed almost 15 million times on mobile and tablet devices.

With this many installs, it is no surprise that the growth in TV viewing in iPlayer has been driven by incredible tablet usage. Or should I say ‘phablets’?

And usage didn’t just peak over the festive period as can often be the case. Requests from devices with seven-inch screens such as the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD, Samsung Galaxy Tab and iPad Mini have continued to rise dramatically throughout January.

These stats reinforce the fact that mobile and tablets are hugely important platforms for iPlayer – ensuring you can watch and catch-up on your favourite BBC programmes whenever and wherever you are.

But while we can often use the same technologies to power a large number of devices, some older devices require specific implementations which have an on-going cost.

That said, we want to make our services available to as many people as possible so there’s always a balancing act.

With this in mind we have decommissioned iPlayer on a number of older devices which last week represented 0.17% of our total iPlayer use on mobile.

The full list can be found on the BBC iPlayer FAQ pages but include older Blackberry, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and other mobile phones.

Equally we are always looking at new devices we can bring iPlayer to and I have good news! Earlier this month we added support to the iPlayer mobile web site for the new Blackberry Z10.

I am also thrilled to announce that we have also been working with Microsoft and within the next few months we'll be enabling the same mobile site for devices running Windows Phone 7.5 and 8.

My colleague Cyrus talks about this in his post.

This is really exciting news and I’m looking forward to sharing more with you at launch. In the meantime it’s always great here from you, so please share your thoughts and comments below.

Dave Price is the head of BBC iPlayer, Programmes and On Demand, BBC Future Media.

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  • Comment number 24. Posted by Tams

    on 9 Mar 2013 14:31

    I don't wish too be too insulting, but you seem rather incompetent regarding platform agnostic content distribution. There is no need for you to develop apps yourself, this can be left to third parties. All you need to do is provide the backbone for streaming and downloading (and related DRM), and then provide third parties with an SDK should people wish to use an app (though a website and a built in media players should be good enough).

    It's not as if the technology isn't there to allow this. Even if it doesn't work perfectly, isn't that what you pay technicians/programmers to work on correcting?

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  • Comment number 23. Posted by Paul

    on 8 Mar 2013 16:47

    Like 18. James, I have a Nokia 808 (only released last Summer but purchased less than a month ago). I have always used iplayer on Nokia 5800, Nokia N8 and my current handset.

    I do own an ipad but usually keep that at home.

    Just wondering if iplayer is being removed totally from these Nokias (assuming this is for the whole Symbian platform) or the mobile page left as is with downloading programmes available?

    Thanks

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  • Comment number 22. Posted by Greebler

    on 8 Mar 2013 03:01

    Please support the Nexus 10 - and stop pretending that everyone uses Apple.

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  • Comment number 21. Posted by Eponymous Cowherd

    on 7 Mar 2013 22:40

    @20 Dave Price,

    We keep hearing that "Android remains a key priority", but the evidence really doesn't bear this out. In over two years we haven't seen a reliable Android iPlayer from the BBC, the interval between releases is excessive (the first update wasn't for about a year, and the latest was 5 months since the previous) and when we do get a release it is as likely to be a retrograde step as an improvement (as with the last release).

    And then there is the quality of support and feedback from the BBC. The Feb 2013 release obviously had some serious issues. Most developers on Google Play would have rapidly posted an update along with an apology, but not the BBC. From the BBC we get the usual Wall of Silence. No acknowledgement of the problem, no fix, no indication of when a fix may be forthcoming.

    You say "We have more releases planned to FURTHER IMPROVE playback on the most popular Android devices", which totally fails to recognise that the last release release was a major step in the wrong direction. I honestly envisage all of the people working on Android iPlayer sitting around with their fingers in their ears going "la, la, la, not lis-ten-ing".

    For pity's sake. If you make a bad release, say "sorry, our bad", roll it back, publish an explanation. People RESPECT that, it says you care about the product and your customers.

    Leaving the bad code in place and the "Wall of Silence" shouts nothing but contempt for your users.

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  • Comment number 20. Posted by Dave Price

    on 7 Mar 2013 11:40

    Eponymous Cowherd # 2 & and Alan Phillips # 5. Android remains a key priority for the iPlayer team. I can assure you we maintain a close eye on the Google Play reviews, and the 1 star reviews certainly don't go unnoticed. We have more releases planned to further improve playback on the most popular Android devices, and as previously mentioned on this blog we are working hard to introduce mobile downloads functionality.

    Alex #3. Thanks for your feedback, we are currently investigating.

    Marion # 8. BBC iPlayer did indeed work well on these devices, however, the service was based on a legacy technology and used by small (and rapidly declining) number of people. Unfortunately, it was necessary for the team to withdraw the service on these devices as the underlying technology was in need of further investment, sadly given the low usage this couldn't be justified.

    lettice # 10. The initial removal of the volume feature was driven by audiences telling us that the setting was superfluous given the presence of hardware volume buttons but we will consider this in future releases.

    Grantijj # 11. Unfortunately we don't release channel viewing figures. I can confirm we witness strong performance across CBBC and Cbeebies programmes in iPlayer, not least during January The Dumping Ground was a standout hit.

  • Comment number 19. Posted by Eponymous Cowherd

    on 7 Mar 2013 11:26

    I see that the rating for iPlayer on Google Play has dropped from 2.9/5 to 2.8/5 since the Feb update. This update clearly broke iPlayer on many devices (mine included). Is there any chance of an explanation?

    And how do you justify making a blog post about iPlayer mobile without mentioning this? Surely you must know there is a serious problem? When will it be addressed?

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  • Comment number 18. Posted by James

    on 7 Mar 2013 11:18

    I note that streaming has been removed for phones like the Nokia 808 but downloads (which I use daily on the train) are still currently live. Will downloads continue or have they just not been decommissioned yet?

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  • Comment number 17. Posted by Eponymous Cowherd

    on 7 Mar 2013 09:46

    @16 toffeetaffy:-

    But IOS isn't the most popular platform, Android is, and by quite a margin. I quite agree that publishing an open API would be a better solution, and is what I would expect from a publicly funded organisation like the BBC, but until the "rights holders" of the programmes get over their absurd fixation on trying to "protect" content that has already be made available unencrypted, the the current ridiculous situation will persist.

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  • Comment number 16. Posted by toffeetaffy

    on 6 Mar 2013 22:51

    I have a BlackBerry PlayBook and Z10 which I am extremely pleased that BBC IPlayer was supported from launch as it is the most commonly used app in my household.

    I am surprised that you have withdrawn support for some of the older bb devices as these are not that old... In fact they were the higher end BlackBerry's until just over a month ago.

    I also hope that your devs look to build a native app for BB10 with additional features. I get frustrated with the perceived degree of apple loving, particularly from an organisation that is part funded by the public.

    I understand the need to appeal to the largest audience first by launching new functionality on the most popular platform, but then resources need to be diverted to releases on the other platforms before additional features are rolled out again.... Or just make the IPlayer API open source so 3rd party developers can fill in the gaps where the BBC is failing.

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  • Comment number 15. Posted by Alan Phillips

    on 6 Mar 2013 18:05

    @DavieHooks(14):
    You're quite right about Android fragmentation making things very, very hard for demanding applications. There are hundreds of combinations, and adding in the instabilities that other apps introduce only makes it worse. The BBC do have a difficult problem, and Adobe pulling Flash from JB has really made things messy. I'm a Windows dev by trade, and even the limited combinations you get there can be a challenge.

    *BUT* the BBC seem to be doing much worse at this than anyone else. Other apps can stream video across Android devices, so it can be done.

    As a customer watching from outside, I do feel there is a disconnect between the promises (and I'm happy to believe, the wishes) and the reality. Two examples: the iPlayer in January would not install on Nexus 7. Someone had forgotten to define the application as compatible with that screen geometry. A simple mistake - but it followed a blog that told us how important the Nexus 7 was tothe BBC, as one of the top selling devices. So no-one did a test that the app would install on it?

    The February release, as I mentioned earlier, broke lots of devices totally. A few people have logged comments that it works nicely, but hundreds and hundreds of one-star reviews reporting total failure, rare working or poor video quality don't seem good to me. As a dev, I'd be doing something about that pretty soon, even if only to put out a "sorry, folks, we're working on it". Customers canbe understanding if you actually tell them what's going on.

    And the final point: poor quality is actually what the BBC is delivering.Video quality over 3G connections is laughable (on builds that work). 10 inch tablets aren't supported at all.

    Now, lack of iPlayer doesn't impact me too much. I know how to side-load Flash on JellyBean. I know how to trick the Dolphin browser into enabling it. I can use the Flash-based web site. But someone who goes out and buys a shiny new top of the range tablset because she's heard of all the great things it can do? Sorry, should have bought an iPad.

    What to do, then? I think the BBC have to up their game in quality assessment a lot. I have no idea how many devs they have, but it doesn't seem enough. And they need to get a closed beta tester group so they can get RC builds tried out in the real world, on rooted devices, with wierd configs and apps and all sizes of memory.

    I'd really like to see iPlayer get going on Android. I think it's the key to a radical change in video consumption and in education. I don't think the BBC is able to do it as it stands, which is a big, big shame.

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