BBC iPlayer on mobile

Tuesday 5 March 2013, 09:39

Dave Price Dave Price Head of BBC iPlayer

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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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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Here's my thought. Still no Android downloads.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Yet another post crowing about how great iPlayer on mobile devices is. Do you people not look at the ratings and reviews on Google Play?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Since either the last update to Chrome for Android or the last update to the BBC Media Player app, I can no longer use iPlayer via the mobile website - it keeps prompting me to install the media player app, even though I have it installed. Please fix this, or even better, update to iPlayer android app to properly support large screen tablets like the Nexus 10, which seems sensible since you talk about the growth in tablet usage in this blog!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    An update on Android downloads would be appreciated please. This seems to have been progressively demoted from 'soon' (when the functionality was released for the iPhone), to 'early 2013', to 'some months away', to 'we are working hard to determine when this can be included'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    This is a really surprising blog entry indeed.

    If you look at the comments in Google Playstore, you'll see from the 6200 and rising one-star reviews that the Feb 14 update to iPlayer broke many, many devices completely. Typically, as for me on a Nexus 7, the app force closes as soon as the 'play' button is tapped.

    The app was working before; the update broke it utterly.

    But you don't mention this at all! I'd getbthe impression from your post that everything is wonderful and all is going to plan. Not a mention that now the app doesn't actually work and has all the marks of having shipped with minimal testing.

    You've not acknowledged any comments in the Google Playstore, either.

    None of this bears out your blog entry at the end of last year about significantly improving Android support, I fear.

    I think many, many people would like to hear when the Feb 14 issues are going to fixed, in preference to promises of future goodies. I'd felt you were making excellent progress in the update before that, but now I don't think you have any adequate QA in place.


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Staff from the BBC's online and technology teams talk about BBC Online, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and the BBC's digital and mobile services. The blog is reactively moderated. Your host is Nick Reynolds.

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