New BBC iPlayer comes to Windows Phones 8

Tuesday 27 May 2014, 11:31

Navin Nair Navin Nair Business Analyst

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Hi, I’m Navin Nair, a Business Analyst in the BBC iPlayer team.

Almost exactly a year ago, we brought BBC iPlayer to Windows Phone 8 devices for the first time. Today I’m pleased to announce a major update to the app bringing the benefits of the new BBC iPlayer to Windows Phone 8 devices, making it easier to catch up on your favourite programmes as well as discover new content.

You can read more about the new BBC iPlayer here, but in this post I’m going to focus on the features which are making their debut on Windows Phone 8. First, we’ve overhauled the viewing experience, switching to an adaptive bitrate media player. This means those of you with poorer internet connections will still be able to watch content while those with faster connections will get the best playback quality available. You can also watch programmes with subtitles, delivering on the BBC’s commitment to accessible content for all. But wait, there’s more! We’ve also added live TV, so you can keep up with any BBC channel on the go.

windows 8 master 1.jpg Home page, channel page and category page

As well as new features, we’ve put a lot of effort into improving the general app experience. This update is far more stable and is expected to work with a wider range of Windows Phones. We know this was one of the main gripes with the original app and we’re keen to do more for a steadily growing user base. We would love to add features like downloads once the market share increases to the point we can justify the additional development and infrastructure costs.

windows 8 master 2.jpg

Once you update the app, you will notice that Radio content is no longer available. This was a difficult decision, but it allows us to focus on offering the best TV viewing experience in iPlayer. I do appreciate that this leaves some without a way to enjoy radio content but we really believe that the experience of the new BBC iPlayer is a huge leap forward and worth taking now. The iPlayer Radio team are currently working on a similar app with an optimised listening experience so stay tuned for more news on this.

The updated app is available now via the Windows Phone Store; I encourage you to download it and try out the new BBC iPlayer experience for Windows Phone 8. We’re keen to hear what you think: rate the app, leave comments or complete the online survey. We’re always looking to improve the product and keep bringing you the best viewing experience we can. I hope you enjoy using the new app!

Navin Nair is Business Analyst, BBC iPlayer in BBC Future Media

Update 8th July 2014. The BBCiPlayer Radio app is now available for Windows 8 phones. Please read Daniel Bean's post for more details. Thanks.

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    Comment number 1.

    Thanks for this welcome update. Live TV, the new UI and subtitles are very welcome improvements and are working nicely!

    Some thoughts and queries:

    1. ITV/C4/C5/STV all have native WP8 apps, but the BBC's is a web wrapper on your new responsive site. This means your competitors' apps run much faster and more smoothly than yours. Why is this?

    2. Related to the above, since the app is a wrapper on your responsive website why is it so slow? The previous version was slow and the new version is even slower. Even on a strong WiFi connection going from page to page is so slow and shows the loading bar.

    3. You mention downloads might come "once the market share increases to the point we can justify the additional development and infrastructure costs". For the past 10 months WP market share in the UK has hovered around the 10% mark which represents around 1 in 10 smartphone users. This is a sizeable number and no doubt most of these people also pay the licence fee. Understandably development is expensive but what market share would be "enough" for you to invest these resources for WP users?

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    Comment number 2.

    I'd love to know how a download is significantly more expensive than a stream. Surely both options serve roughly the same amount of data? And even if it wasn't then the numbers you're talking about would be a very small overall increase.

    I'm staggered you've actually removed features without a ready replacement. Will it be another three years before the radio "team" produce an app?

    Saying that features that have been standard on other platforms long before they had 10% of market share will come when WP has more than 10% doesn't make much sense. The BBC fell over itself to provide an iPhone app long before it had anything like 10% userbase, so why is WP being forced to meet a higher requirement?

    Even today iOS only has 30% userbase in the UK yet it's showered with features and updates.

    Basing customer service on audience size? Way to completely miss the point of the BBC, Navin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Right.... So an 'update' that removes all the functionality I used on a daily basis? Great work!

    I don't seem to be alone in not being able to listen again through my browser. Would it not have made sense to launch the rumoured radio app simultaneously? Or are we all to borrow iPhones in the meantime? I trust this won't be too long.... Now have no way to listen to my favourite shows. Thanks for that.

    Will the argument for only investing in mass audiences start trickling into programming too? As I dread to think how many programmes don't have the same audience figures as those people with windows phones...

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I am disgusted. Only this morning I was using this app to listen to radio programmes - now you have killed this service completely. You say you are working on a replacement for this - why withdraw the existing service when the replacement is not ready?
    If I have to put up with this reduction in service can I have a reduction in my licence fee please? No, I didn't think so, - you are very pleased with your fancy new app but you don't give a hoot about your listeners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    It is nice to note the new BBC iPlayer down-grade has been foisted onto the Windows Phone 8 users. Welcome aboard - welcome to the other smart phone, tablet style, PC and TV users that now have to suffer the 'benefits' of lower expectations, reduced functionality and a painful interface.

    The last paragraph in the article above should read: -

    The updated app is available, Try it etc…etc……
    We're keen to ignore any negative feedback, or any comments that are not extremely positive, and don't bother to rate it or complete the online survey it just wastes your time and ours. We're not looking to improve the product any more than it is at present but we may try to include some of the lost or reduced functions sometime next year, if we remember.
    At this time we are only seeking a few positives that can be used to prove to our superiors how well we are performing.

    I hope you enjoy using the new app!

    But probably not!


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