New BBC iPlayer for TVs out of preview

Wednesday 21 May 2014, 12:45

Marcus Parnwell Marcus Parnwell Executive Product Manager

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Today we are taking the new BBC iPlayer TV application out of preview, bringing new benefits like collections and better discoverability options and making it the default experience. We have spent the last 10 weeks working through the feedback you have provided and adding some final polish to ensure it is to the high standard expected of BBC iPlayer.

I would like to share some of the feedback we received and how we looked to address it with some quotes that illustrate the major themes.

“It looks nice, but the back button does not work”

This is an example of how our users can teach us things we didn’t know. We always aim to minimise clutter and functionality that isn’t being used, and we thought we might have an example here – but because we weren’t entirely sure, rather than remove it completely, we did put in a few minimal back journeys to see how they would be used - turns out quite a lot!

Consequently, we have now restored full hierarchical back journeys so you can navigate back through the application and even exit with the back button. From playback, you can return to the screen you came from whilst the video continues playing so you can easily find more from that channel or category. If you want to remove the playback controls quickly, you can simply push down twice and it will clear the screen.

We have also standardised some of the journeys so that they are more consistent, for example, the expanding of episodes in the Category A-Zs is now vertical rather than horizontal to make it easier to get back.

a-z.jpg A to Z in the new iPlayer for TV

“Like the new design … the ‘favourites’ needs some more work though.”

There was some feedback about the changes to favourites. Whilst some of you like its new prominence on the home screen, others have been frustrated that we are limiting the number of favourites, that favourites have not been migrated and that you can only favourite from within playback.

Firstly, I can confirm that we are migrating favourites from the old version to the new version. However, we are reducing the number of favourites you can hold as we are moving to a location storage model. I understand that this will be disappointing news for some of you but it is a necessary change we have to make to preserve our server infrastructure. The feedback from users who like to favourite multiple programmes without watching them and then watch them later took us by surprise. It is not the main use case for this functionality but I can see how it would be useful. We are working on addressing this but hopefully with the ability to discover over playout, you can continue to do this easily.

favourites.jpg Favourites are migrating from the old version to the new version

“It seems slower than the old version”

There is no doubt this new version is more graphically rich and requires more from your device. However we are keenly aware that TV viewing is primarily a visual experience, and since we built the first version of iPlayer for TVs, the capability of devices has taken a big step on. We want to embrace the opportunity this gives us, and to make BBC iPlayer on TV as engaging and high quality as we can.

The technical team in Salford has been poring over memory dumps and performance monitors to reduce the unnecessary weight in the application and remove any memory leaks. The keen-eyed amongst you might notice a simpler background, a few less gradients and other minor visual changes that all went to improve performance. I believe it is markedly better but we are still working on how we can improve performance to ensure the best possible.

home.jpg The new home page

“Any idea when we might see this rolled out to Virgin's Tivo boxes?”

And I might add YouView devices, XBox 360 , NOW TV - the list could go on.

We see this as *the* BBC iPlayer experience going forward and are working to bring it to as many devices as possible. Some have HTML 5 stacks and it is a matter of testing, applying some tweaks where required and deploying, others we are further off with. We are hoping to bring this to YouView and Virgin Media TiVo devices this year and are working with the relevant companies to make this a reality.

“TV works, but there's no radio. Is it hidden and I can't find it?”

We have decided not to include radio within this new version of BBC iPlayer – I appreciate this is not the response some of you wanted. This is because the effort required to support on-demand radio listening via TVs is significant but TVs are not a significant way that people are using to listen to on-demand radio content. You can continue to enjoy live radio on all Freeview, Freesat and YouView devices and live and on demand radio via BBC iPlayer Radio on computers, tablets and smart phones.

As always we are interested in hearing your opinions to improve the product. So please let me know what you think – either via the comments below or using the TV survey.

Marcus Parnwell, Executive Product Manager for BBC iPlayer on TV.

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    Comment number 1.

    Disappointing with the removal of radio section of iPlayer. I found it easier to catch up with such shows as Just a Minute, Unbelievable Truth, etc. Due to epilepsy, I can't always catch them at the time of broadcast. It is a pity this has been removed from Smart TVs.

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    Comment number 2.

    "However, we are reducing the number of favourites you can hold as we are moving to a location storage model. I understand that this will be disappointing news for some of you but it is a necessary change we have to make to preserve our server infrastructure"

    What does that actually mean? How much data are you storing, and where are you putting it? how does this have any negative impact on your infrastructure?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    As a family we use iPlayer on our TV for listen again every day. I am very disappointed this funtionallity has been removed. Why not at least roll out the BBC Radio app for Smart TVs as well as phones?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I am very disappointed that I won't be able to access radio on iPlayer through my TV.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    We have been using the previous version of iplayer for months on our ps3 and with the new version everything is off-centre and we can't see the right hand side of the screen. It's really weird. I don't know how to reconfigure it.


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