Launch of Live Interactive Video Player

Friday 29 June 2012, 19:59

Alex Perry Alex Perry Product Manager

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The live, interactive video player combines HD video with cutting edge data to enhance your viewing

I want to tell you about a new live interactive video player that the BBC is launching for this summer's Olympics.

We rolled it out fully today after a period in beta testing when we were able to assess its performance and get your feedback.

As product manager for this player, I've been defining exactly how the finished product should function and what it should look like, working with colleagues from editorial, design and technical teams.

One of the main impetuses behind the project is the incredible video rights package that the BBC holds for London 2012.

The BBC is the sole rights holder for the Olympics in the UK and we are able to offer users live video from every venue on every day of the Games.

That means up to 24 different streams of live sporting action at any one time.

So we wanted to take this opportunity to build a video player that would offer the best possible desktop video viewing experience to do justice to that incredible breadth of live content and would also provide a lasting legacy to BBC Online and our audiences in the years to come.

That means making the video available in high definition and then enhancing it with some extra functionality that in terms of added choice, rivals anything you would have experienced before while watching sport on your TV.

The key features in the new player are:

• Every sport available live and on demand in HD quality on every day of the Games
• Easy switching between up to 24 live streams at any time
• The ability to pause and rewind live video or jump straight to key moments you may have missed by using chapter markers (eg the Men's 100m final)
• Alerts for the key events that have happened or are coming up so you don't miss the moments that matter to you
• Extra facts and info on the sports and competitors you are watching alongside the video

The video player combines the video with the associated data that is available to us, creating a much richer experience for our audiences. The types of information and data provided includes:

Olympics Live: worried you'll miss something happening at another Olympic venue? Olympics Live alerts viewers to interesting moments happening live across the 24 simultaneous streams, making sure you don't miss any key action

Athletes: discover more about the individual athletes, including information on their performance and previous times, while you watch

Sports guides: wonder how a specific sport works? This feature gives you the info about the individual sports, with five key facts offered for every discipline

Match stats: key real-time statistics about the event

Where we are able to show athlete performance data, the key thing is that we synchronise the data and video together so that you always see the stats appropriate for the point in the video that you are watching.

So if you decide to watch a video from the start, we won't give you the results from the end. And if you are watching live, we won't show the result of the Men's 100m before you've had a chance to watch it!

You may already have had a sneak preview of the video player as we've been trialling a beta version on recent events including Formula 1 and Euro 2012.

Today we took the decision to separate Sport's live text commentary page and the video player in order to make sure it is fully tested at load before the Olympics kick off.

For now you will be able to watch in HD quality once the bit rate ramps up, pause or rewind the live action or jump to chapters using the buttons below the timeline.

And by clicking in the top left hand corner you can choose from any of the streams we're offering for Wimbledon, the Euros or our other events on the BBC.

You can watch our video player on your desktop computer and certain tablets that support Flash. On mobiles and iPads you will be able to watch the video but without the extra functionality.

I'd really like to hear back from you about your experience of using the video player.

I'd be particularly interested if you have any problems with the performance of the player or the quality of the video you are seeing.

Alex Perry is Product Manager, Interactive Video Player, BBC News & Knowledge

Watch this video of Gary Lineker explaining the features of the interactive video player.

You must have a TV licence to watch live TV streamed on your computer. A 'live' TV programme is defined as a programme which is watched or recorded at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is being broadcast.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    From a short experience, generally excellent. One thing that would make it better is to provide an open in a window option to allow me to resize it as I see fit. Good work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Just like iPlayer set the standard for web-video, this raises it again. Great work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I cannot see a picture on the player at all! Just the sound plays to a black screen. I've tried both Chrome and IE 9. I'm on 64 bit Windows 7 on a Dell laptop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    @I Want To Post - All the video will also be available as catch-up very shortly so you won't need to have started watching while it is still live.

    You mention also F1 and this has been one of our test events. This weekend's British GP will also be available to view in the new player, along with the Open golf at the end of the month.

    And just to expand on the bitrate question you raise. The player starts at a low bitrate and steps up to the highest rate that is suitable for the speed of your broadband. If your broadband speed is fast enough, it will go up to HD. If not, it will max out at the appropriate level. That functionality is available now.

    @sfocata - when we show catch-up content alongside the live video, it will be clearly marked as such. You shouldn't have seen footage from yesterday so we'll take a look at that.

    Also, we know some people like to watch in a smaller player while they do other stuff and we hope to add this functionality soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Similar issues to poster #11, getting constant issues with the video seemingly buffering, despite never having this problem with the old video player, definately having a fast enough connection, and not having anything wrong with my connection (I can for example watch other videos on the site, including iPlayer without any buffering). I'm actually finding it unusable which is a massive disappointment.
    Even if it was working, it is really disappointing to see that the black bars around the picture are intentional!! Like others have suggested, making the extra data optional would have been much nicer, especially if the data will be like the screenshot shows (ie: information that would be on the actual video feed anyway)

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I think the new player is fantastic and is definitely what we expect. Only problem I have at the moment watching wimbledon is the picture quality - my connection is nowhere near saturated yet the player has decided I have low available bandwidth and so provides me a highly compressed feed! Hope this is fixed in time for HD streaming!

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    @sfocata - Quick update for you on the problem where you saw yesterday's footage. I've caught up with the editorial team and they promoted the wrong url by mistake. So that was indeed catch-up content from Monday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Also using Windows 7 and getting no picture only audio. Using Firefox but tried Internet Explorer and Chrome and it doesn't work on them either. Downloaded the latest version of flash and that didn't help. And the turning off hardware acceleration option is disabled on my laptop so that doesn't really help either. Hope you'll sort this out soon as I can't watch anything now you've taken the old player away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    I am getting sound but no video as previous comments. As requested my information is as follows:

    Your browser is:
    Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP
    Your Browser Capabilities:
    Flash 10.3 is installed

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    @Ricky - can you try turning off hardware acceleration and refreshing the page and then seeing if the video plays? If you right click on the video player and open up 'Settings', you should get an option to turn off hardware acceleration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Also suffered from audio / no video with Win7-64 / latest Flash / IE9 or Chrome
    Disabling hardware accelerator worked to fix it - using instructions in this link

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    @AndyB Thanks for that, that worked for me too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Tried yet again tonight. When started got those horible black lines left, botton, and right. Clicked on "More video" and selected a video and I got a thick black line on the right and the "normal" black line on the bottom. No black line on the top or left.

    Clearly the only way to watch these 24 channels in real HD will be satellite or on Virgin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    So we've tweaked the way we handle bitrates today. So I'd be interested to hear back if you've seen a change - better or worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Is there some way to disable the bitrate handling and set it manually?
    (e.g. for an unstable but fast connection it will ramp up to the maximum and then be forced to buffer frequently, or you might wish to keep it at a low bitrate when sharing an internet connection or dealing with download limits).

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    bbc should take a leaf out of skygo player and allow the user to adjust the bandwidth. i cannot watch skygo in the default auto nor the high setting but as soon as i've set it to the medium it works fine whatever sport/tv prog i'm watching. there is going to be a heck of a lot of disgruntled license fee payers unable to watch these videos because of the constant buffering problems like i've just experienced trying to watch the tennis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Yeah I'm having the buffering problems too. I see now the picture starts up more detailed immediately, which is better than before, but really that's a marginal thing. We still have regular freezing of a stream that eats up your monthly download allowance much quicker than before for the privilege of seeing a picture that is a third smaller!
    By all means make changes, but in the early stages you have to allow the option of using the standard format, otherwise some people will have trouble with their 'experience'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    This is very promising. :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    @Alex Perry-a couple of comments:-

    I did try the player again yesterday and found that it was working a little bit better. There were still a few buffering issues, however, the stream didn't stop completely forcing me to refresh the page, so the experience was significantly better.

    Regarding the black bars-why don't you put the video fullscreen and then scale it down if we optionally decide to display the extra data at the bottom of the screen?

    The ability to rewind is a really nice feature, however, if play has finished on a specific court for the day access to the stream is then removed from the website, meaning you cannot view the earlier matchs played on that court. Is there any reason why the stream cannot be made available for a longer period of time?

    Finally, I can replicate exactly what poster #53 is describing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    I get sound & no video with the new system. Turned on to watch the Euro Final having watched matches previously & couldn't. Annoyingly I could watch the goal highlights (2 at that point) from the home page, just not the match.
    I have Win 7 64 bit, adobe air, 11 active X (dl today) but did not have a problem watching any sport video before the update.
    Video on news site working as normal.
    Internet explorer 9.
    Disappointed to hear F1 will be on this new system too as I usually watch that as well; being bed bound my options are limited; although that said the quality of the output on the website and iplayer is usually so good it would be my first choice anyway.
    Hope you get it fixed or advise me what to try to fix it.
    Thank you


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