iPlayer Radio: Buffering & Programme Availability Update
With over 57 different radio stations (and goodness knows how many radio programmes), moving radio over to the BBC iPlayer was always going to be a big piece of work.
By and large, it's working very well - we've a ton of interesting statistics which we're poring over. We'll make some available on this blog at some point in the next few months.
We've successfully delivered a good improvement in audio quality for Listen Again content within the UK, as well as a much more sophisticated user interface, allowing you to view by category, by schedule, or by station.
Radio now comes with pictures (so that's what BBC Radio 5 live's Peter Allen looks like). If the doorbell rings or Windows decides to reboot again, you can start listening again from where you left off.
And the search functionality in iPlayer is really good. It's a tremendous step forward from the old BBC Radio Player.
But inevitably, some things haven't worked perfectly.
Currently, we're seeing two issues which I want to be open about, and wanted to let you know we're working on.
The audio for a small amount of programmes was occasionally unavailable - and the problem was worse if you were outside the UK, or using a wifi radio. We found the problem late last week, related to a few upload problems we've been having, and hope that we have now fixed this issue. Incidentally, almost all of these programmes would still have been missing had we been running the old Radio Player; our fancy new interface isn't to blame.
Secondly, we're getting a some reports of excessive "buffering", where the audio stops while your internet connection catches up.
For those of you in the UK, you'll spot a "modem users" link that we've added, which gives you a version of the feed which is lower bitrate (and thus should cope just fine), but I'd be very interested to hear from people for whom the audio is buffering - particularly if you can watch the TV content within iPlayer without being interrupted by buffering. Feel free to comment here with your, er, comments. Higher bitrate is something many are asking for; but excessive buffering isn't a side-effect anyone wants.
Whether it's the new BBC homepage, last.fm or Facebook, it's clear that there's a small number of people who find changes to the look and feel of familiar websites upsetting. When it doesn't work as perfectly as you'd expect, it's doubly irritating.
I could, accurately, defend iPlayer's radio section for being much more reliable than the old BBC Radio Player which it replaced, not to mention the additional functionality we have been able to introduce - but I know that if you can't get your favourite programme, that's all that really matters.
So instead, please simply accept my apologies if you're one of the few that has been affected, and know that we're working on it.
James Cridland is Head of Future Media & Technology for BBC Audio & Music Interactive.