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BBC iPlayer - update on your feedback

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Daniel Danker Daniel Danker | 15:20 UK time, Monday, 25 October 2010

I'm Daniel Danker; I joined the BBC as General Manager for Programmes and On Demand last month, and am responsible for delivering the BBC's online products - including BBC iPlayer.

This past weekend, I appeared on Points of View to respond to audience reactions to the latest version of BBC iPlayer, which launched in September. I wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit more about the thinking that went into the product, the research done by the team during development and testing, what we've learned since launch, and our next steps.

We set out to build this release with several goals:

To reduce the time it takes audiences to find programmes they want to watch

To make it easier to discover media in a huge and growing content library

To create a more personalized experience

We evaluate feedback in a number of ways, and a four-month live beta phase helped us bridge the gap between the way we thought you would use the product and how you actually used it in real life. As James Hewines discussed in his blog ahead of the launch, nearly 10% of you participated in the beta, providing a tremendous amount of feedback on how the product worked in the real world. This included your thoughts on the user interface and functionality, as well as reports of bugs for our engineers to resolve.

More streams, fewer clicks

As we iron out the post-launch issues, there's plenty of good news to share. Usage is up and radio consumption is growing particularly fast. Audiences are finding programmes with 20% fewer clicks than before, which is a really great result. The new personalisation features are also proving very popular. with 14 million of you tagging 'favourite' programmes 14 million shows tagged as a 'favourite' programme in just one month. Audiences have selected a programme as a 'favourite' 3 million times in the first month.

You may have also seen the data in the BBC iPlayer performance pack for September, the first statistics since we launched the new look. BBC iPlayer had a total of 114 million programme plays for the month, but the real success story was the week-by-week increase. The last week in September saw 24 million programmes played across TV and radio - the most in a single week since May. The growth has continued in October, where each week has been stronger than the last.

Your feedback

While I'm really encouraged by these early figures, there were a number of places where we didn't get it quite right. Since our full-scale launch on September 6, we have received feedback in the form of blog posts, comments, and emails to our support and contact teams, all of which we review constantly. A weekly report is sent directly to our editorial and product teams to summarize the latest concerns. It's an incredibly useful feedback loop that helps us determine whether big product launches - as well as smaller changes and refinements - are pleasing audiences.

Despite the positives, there were three main things you didn't like:

1. Downloaded programmes disappearing when using iPlayer Desktop

2. Complaints about the loss of A-Z navigation to titles

3. Difficulty finding the last programme watched or listened to

We've heard your feedback, and are making changes in response. We've already reinstated the TV pop-out console; it can be activated using the icon found in the lower-right corner of the player. Next, to resume watching or listening to a programme from where you left off, open the "Favourites" drawer on the BBC iPlayer homepage. Finally, we're completing designs to bring back the A-Z feature.

We are working as quickly as possible to fix bugs that cause some downloaded programmes to disappear from iPlayer Desktop. On Friday, the team completed a patch release, which can be found on the BBC iPlayer Help site Paul Clark's blog post here. To be sure we've truly solved the problem, we'll be testing the fix over the next couple of weeks. Any feedback you provide during this time will be particularly helpful.

I wanted to thank all of you for submitting your thoughts, and hope you'll continue to do so. Please continue to come back here for more updates from the team.

Daniel Danker is General Manager for Programmes and On Demand, BBC Future Media & Technology

Editor's note: Unfortunately the previous statistic of 14 million favourites in paragraph five above was reported in error. This has now been corrected. The correct figures are underlined. My apologies.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Quote:- 'On Friday, the team completed a patch release, which can be found on the BBC iPlayer Help site here'

    The word 'here' does click to a 'patch' link

    I also went to the Help page and typed in 'patch' but no result
    Could you add the link into the blog page please.

    Sorry if it's there and I'm just not seeing it :-)

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm so used to the new iPlayer, I really can't imagine using the old one - the A-Z list for BBC FOUR aside.

    I just found another bug. When you use the search and you get results in the "TV and Radio" list, any result that is a radio favourite does not operate as such...

  • Comment number 3.

    Yet another iPD fix.
    I note the BBC has tweeted & blogged about an iPlayer Desktop v3.0.8 beta release. Would it be nice to mention it on the messageboard & in the iPlayer help & faq section.

  • Comment number 4.

    To me, it just doesn't make sense to have your last watched shows under 'favourites'. It's hugely misleading. Other than that, I don't have any complaints lately.

  • Comment number 5.

    Although as #1 daveac says this blog fails to publish a link for the v3.0.8 download it is included in yet another earlier blog and this is the actual missing link.

  • Comment number 6.

    What about the issue where iPlayer radio content (not sure if effects TV also) just stops and when you press play it goes right back to the start? It is very frustrating having to find your place again in a 3 hour long radio programme.

  • Comment number 7.

    Apologies for the missing link. Now corrected.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 8.

    #6 Why not explain the problem on the messageboard -- clickable link
    Mentioning whether you are in the uk or overseas, and whether it is a Flash Stream or Windows stream that is being used.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thanks for responding to comments though I still don't like the new iplayer and wish we could have the old one. I just don't believe you when you say it now takes fewer clicks to find things: for example the last watched list used to be right there on the page, now I have to go to favourites and click through. It is also irritating that in the 'points of view' piece the backdrop is of a fictonal 'new' iplayer screengrab which has the 'old' ribbon of programmes in place over the much hated (by me at least) 'featured, for you. friends, popular' quartet. Any chance of actually putting that back on the live page please?, it's easily the thing I miss the most. If you could also offer the option of personalising the the page by removing the wretched quartet of boxes (in the same way that one can adapt the main page by removing/moving content) you would make this user a very happy woman.

  • Comment number 10.

    #8 I have seen other posts about it on a previous blog here and on the messageboard so I expect the BBC are aware of it by now. There is not much detail I can add but it is flash based listen again such as Radio 1 programmes that I have personally had problems with, and I am in the UK.

  • Comment number 11.

    Are there any plans to update the iPlayer to use the GEL global header? Whilst I think it only became standard whilst the iPlayer was in public beta it would be nice if it could be used.

  • Comment number 12.

    The relevant help page has now been updated.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 13.

    It would really be simple to make everyone happy. Let me show you a very good site, you might already be familiar with it:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/
    I think there is a lot to learn from that one - the content is very customizable, I can move the sections or even eliminate the ones I do not care for, I can bring to the front the parts I do. It remembers how I left it every time i come back.

    What would that mean for iplayer?
    A simple cookie would allow me to delete functions I have no use for (Friends), it would allow me to move the section i go to first (categories) to the top of the page so i don't have to scroll down, Once I go into a category it would remember that i prefer the AtoZ mode and not the most recent as default, and, it would allow me to see a choice of 10,20 or 50 listings on the one page so i don't have to click through 12 pages to get through the list but simply roll the roller on my mouse.

    Is that very difficult to do?

  • Comment number 14.

    A-Z Lives

    Yes, the A-Z functionality still exists. Admittedly one needs to understand that:-
    "Teledu a Radio" is "Television and Radio"
    "Mwyaf Diweddar" is "Most Recent"
    "Yr Wyddor" is "Alphabetical"

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/cy/a

    So BBC please bring it back for all and do it TODAY.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    #13 Coppernob mentions another BBC site and how it is customisable.

    It was even possible to select the Radio information that displayed in your own customisable page, until the BBC improvements broke it. Since then although they re-introduced a clock and fixed most of it we have not been able to choose the Radio station that shows by default, we have to change it every-time we use the page unless we are Radio 1 fans.

    We also lost the module linking to BBC blogs in the same time period.

    I assume these Blogs are intended to announce to other Media how well BBC is doing, but are not too keen on encouraging the BBC's users to find them in case we comment about the many problems and shortcomings of the relentless fancy new changes.

  • Comment number 17.

    @16 John99

    "It was even possible to select the Radio information that displayed in your own customisable page, until the BBC improvements broke it. Since then although they re-introduced a clock and fixed most of it we have not been able to choose the Radio station that shows by default, we have to change it every-time we use the page unless we are Radio 1 fans."

    Indeed. It would also be nice if the pop-up came out the right size and did not need fiddly adjusting for length and breadth.

    The alternative is to click to go to the iPlayer page, click on radio, click on the station you are after, click on "listen live" and then click on "listen in pop-up" when the tab comes up.

    But like the blog says, we need less clicks nowadays........

  • Comment number 18.

    As with so many other people who have mentioned on other blogs and messageboards, it takes at least twice the number of clicks previously needed to even get close to finding what you want.

    It is nigh on impossible to browse programmes as before without quickly becoming irritated.

    Also, I agree with an earlier post in that it does not necessarily make sense to put 'last played' in the favourites section for example, if it was something that had been found through browsing.

    There is no need for always being sent right back to the homepage again each time a programme has finished being viewed or listened to.

    I got rid of Desktop entirely due to the amount of downloading problems which I, along with a load of other people, had encountered.

    I don't want to hear about more 'elegant' solutions to functionality, I just want iPlayer to return to it's user-friendly self. There would have been no problem with the upgrade if it had been an improved and enhanced version. Unfortunately, it is not.

    If it is so successful as Daniel Danker et al are saying, why on earth did he have to go on Points of View to justify it then subsequently talk of ways to solve problems which had not existed before??

    I still don't like the new iplayer but I continue to use it because of my work schedule. However, my use is far reduced from what it was before and only because I check the tv and radio listings beforehand to know about specific programmes.

    I breathe a sigh of relief and mourn the old iPlayer whenever I go to use itvPlayer and 4OD. Even with adverts, I can access what I want quickly and simply without having to faff around various pages of listings. Browsing their A-Z's for programmes which I might not otherwise have known about or thought to watch is also a simple pleasure.

    The fact that people are still using this iPlayer despite the many, many complaints speaks more for the programmes and programme-makers than for iPlayer itself!

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi Daniel
    I listen to 7 online in Vancouver BC Canada and now and then the sound is distorted and unlistenable, very frustrating. Oct 29 & 30 have been just horrible and warbly sounding.All the other BBC stations are fine.

    I've sent a contact form from R7 'site tonight but I've read some older posts on the boards and it seems people in various places have the same problem and it's ongoing.
    hope this can be fixed.
    cheers

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    I came on the BBC website to put forward my own view on the new iPlayer format. I'm horrified to find this isn't easy to do. Every discussion has been closed by moderators. Some that have replies to only six hours ago (and it's 3.30am). I've never seen this on any message board I've been on before. Surely a discussion that someone replied to at 9pm is not out of date by the early hours, especially when there is thread after thread of people attempting to express their views on the matter, which are apparently being ignored. This does not seem like the BBC that has been building a good reputation for years, something seems to have gone terribly wrong. The iPlayer format should be changed back to the way it was, the public appear to be trying to shout, why are the BBC not listening?

  • Comment number 22.

    HelenRuby - I assume you are tslking about the iPlayer message boards. If you are posting your comment at 3 a.m. then it may be that the board is closed overnight. Opening hours for the iPlayer message board are 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 23.

    Mr. Danker,

    I welcome an apparent change in tone, if one is to judge from your appearance on "PoV," from the usual over-the-top 'spin' that BBC management and fellow spokespeople have been giving to iPlayer v3.

    However, in reading your blog, you claim that iPlayer v3 was to address the following goals:

    To reduce the time it takes audiences to find programmes they want to watch
    To make it easier to discover media in a huge and growing content library
    To create a more personalized experience


    Unfortunately, the number of clicks, which I have tested, documented, and filed a formal complaint about, has risen dramatically. Just to find a programme that aired the previous night on BBC Two now takes 9+ clicks, where I used to be able to do it in 3. And that's if the content is available for download at all. The current design still requires so much manual intervention that 'vpid' errors are growing in frequency.

    As far as discovering media, the algorithms and flawed categorisation approach (strict hierarchy) means that programmes in which I have no interest are shoved at me (with bloated graphics), while something I might want to watch goes unnoticed.

    And personalisation is a long way off. I would much rather 'assemble' an iPlayer like facility out of links to useful, light (memory, bandwidth) pages already found elsewhere on the BBC Website, with all of those 'drawers' slammed shut. I fear that in the current mass conversion to iPlayer, a lot of those pages will get swept out and replaced with the apparent iPlayer standard--broken code based on flawed designs.

    iPlayer v2 was a great product. Sadly, v3 is a travesty. The BBC content producers and viewers deserve much better. We also deserve some honest communication and professional release management.

    I have been testing and documenting iP Desktop v3.05, v3.07, and v3.08, so that I can help answer the pleas of other suffering users, as well as make it work for myself. It is aggravating to discover that we users are apparently the first to test anything that gets released and then forced upon us.

    Indeed, why can't iPlayer first just play downloaded programmes? Get that right before mucking around with techie-toys. Oh, you did (mostly). That was iPlayer v2.

    Cheers,
    Karin

  • Comment number 24.

    Can anybody be sure that Daniel Danker even reads this blog, never mind take any notice, because the above discussion seems short on his response?

    My own experience has been trying to install the new iplayer on a new Mac but you get into a constant loop that every time you ask to download a program it ask you to install the iplayer.

    I tried to install the desktop iplayer on two PCs and found that the only way possible was either after up-dating Adobe AIR to v2.5 OR allowing Adobe AIR to be installed at the same time by the iplayer installation.

    I thought this might also work for the Mac, so uninstalled Adobe AIR and re-installed it. No effect, still in the continuous loop, of being asked to reinstall the iplayer after attempting to download.

    I then uninstalled the iplayer and Adobe AIR and tried to re-install both via the player. It gets as far as informing you that it will also need to install Adobe AIR and asking permission to do so. After agreeing it attempts to download Adobe AIR but hangs.

    It seems that the problem is with the connectivity between the iplayer and Adobe AIR. Is it trying to download an 'incompatible' version of Adobe AIR, such as for the PC?

    Anyway, at the moment I just simply can't use the Mac to download programmes.

    I did get two responses from the BBC, the last being to try v3.0.8 since quite a few people had had problems with downloads!

    A shame to replace something that worked on my Mac with a new version that doesn't. Can't believe that the BBC didn't even do any basic testing before releasing the new software!

    Adrian

  • Comment number 25.

    And now I see from The Telegraph and other sources ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/digital-media/8114911/BBC-aims-to-gain-from-global-iPlayer.html ) that the BBC Trust have (IMHO foolishly) placed their trust in your team to deliver a global iPlayer, for which BBC Worldwide expects to charge up to $10 per episode.

    How do you think a pay-per-download or subscription-paying customer is going to feel when their $10 30-day download expires after a couple days?

    This is not the first time we have had such announcements, but you are serious this move promises to permanently tarnish the fine reputation that BBC content producers and performers, BBC World Service, and BBC Worldwide have earned over the years.

    Please heed my advice: Walk before attempting to run! FIX iPLAYER FIRST!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment is just to let you know that I've been told the A-Z of programmes in iPlayer is now back (it’s a small but perfectly formed row of the alphabet for people to click). Also, TV pop out for simulcast pages is back.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 28.



    In summary:

    A review of those...

    Stated Goals:

    > To reduce the time it takes audiences to find programmes they want to watch

    Many postings complain about the increasingly large number of clicks it takes to find a programme page from the home page. Except Eastenders of course (which may skew your figures, being so popular.) For a start you have to scroll down past "Featured For You Most Popular Friends".

    = Failed. Goal not met, every activity on iPlayer takes longer now than it did six months ago.

    > To make it easier to discover media in a huge and growing content library

    Well, you have belatedly put back a sort of A-Z but comments above cover why that is not helping much. I am completely sick of being "helped" to find programmes I have no interest in (Eastenders again) or don't even understand the language (why would I want Welsh or Gallic?) In six months I have found ONE radio programme in "Featured", that's all.

    = Failed. More discovery of programmes previously possible through the now removed "Most Recent" sort function.

    > To create a more personalized experience

    The "Favorite" function does not work properly and in general iPlayer has no memory of programmes played already so as not to recommend them over and over again as "New". The pre-order idea has caused far more problems with iPlayer downloads than it can hope to solve. It does not work anyway, often preventing you from viewing the previous programme in a series. Maybe you mean Twitter? But you can't be serious about that! If I could personalize the experience that would be great, how do I get rid of the Facebook, Twitter, For You, Featured, etc? How do I PERSONALIZE iPlayer to know that this person does not personally have ANY interest in Eastenders.

    = Failed, failed, VERY MUCH FAILED! Pointing out which way the flock are going does not make me feel like a person, or even a rodent, it tells me you think I am a sheep!


  • Comment number 29.

    Hi Daniel

    I hope you or one of the iPlayer team can help me.

    Can you tell me why iPlayer have pulled support for sideloading onto Philips GoGear Pmp's? I have just bought a Philips GoGear Opus and in the instruction manual and on BBC iPlayer website clearly states, my device is compatable with BBC iPlayer.

    I try to sideload a programme onto the media player and when I attempt to play the programme on my device get a message " Non Supported format detected. Use the Philips Media converter to convert files to the device". But of course being DRM'd it obviously won't convert I just get a message saying unable to convert Copy Protected file.

    Can you please tell me what is going on with regards to this issue?

  • Comment number 30.

    Can the BBC iPlayer team please put out an official statement about DRM issues surrounding Personal Media Players. Until the DRM software was upgraded we could sideload BBC iPlayer content onto our personal media devices to watch offline.

  • Comment number 31.

    As you couldn't be bothered to answer my posts, I've passed the complaint to the Sun newspaper.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Phil - (comment 29) one of our technical team here has tested iPlayer on Phillips Go Gear and it seems to work. Could you give us more details?

    Thanks

  • Comment number 33.

    What details do you need? it's a Philips GoGear Opus. And there's also problems with the Ariaz too. I keep getting this message "Non supported format detected, Use Philips Media Converter to convert files to the device".

  • Comment number 34.

    Which model did the tech team test it with?

  • Comment number 35.

    I use a MSI U135 netbook running Windows 7 Starter. I have also an Asus EeePc 701sd on Windows XP Home Edition SP3.

  • Comment number 36.

    Thanks Phil. Hopefully someone will be able to respond next week.

  • Comment number 37.

    Re the problems with sideload to Philips GoGear Opus: I'm in the technical team for iPlayer. I tested downloading 'Men of Rock' to my XP Professional desktop and then sideloaded to a older GoGear device (maybe 2 years old now). It transferred and played back on the device fine.
    I don't have an Opus, but I expect it to support a super set of the functionality of the older device - so should still work I think, but if you've seen evidence to the contrary then I'll investigate happily.
    Please can you describe the steps you took that led to the 'non supported format' message? which download link in iPlayer did you use? how do you sync to your gogear device? (e.g. using WMP or explorer).
    thanks.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hello Jon

    This is a step by step list of the procedures I carry out to put iPlayer content onto my Philips GoGear Opus media player. First up, here is a list of the equipment I use to carry out the task.

    Computers: MSI U135 Netbook, using Windows 7 Starter Edition, and Internet Explorer 8. I also tried using Google Chrome browser, which didn’t work. The MSI uses Windows Media Player 12, which is a dedicated version of WMP, made especially for Windows 7. I managed to downgrade it to WMP11, but that made no difference. I have a smaller netbook, which as Asus EEPC, running Windows XP and WMP11, which also didn’t work with the Opus player, producing the same errors I shall describe later. My partner has a netbook, the Zoostorm Freedom 10-270, which runs IE8 and Windows 7.

    Media Players: The Media Player I use is the Philips GoGear Opus SA1OPS08k/02 later. I have two other media players – Samsung YP-Q1 and Bush O8-MP-O8, both of which work fine.

    For the purpose of explaining things to you, I shall stick with the MSI netbook, and the Philips Media Player. On the netbook I go to the iPlayer website, which I have bookmarked the page for access. I select the show I wish to download, and ensure that it has an option to download to a portable device. Not all programmes have this option, especially in the last month or so, as many downloads have gone astray. This is well documented on the iPlayer messageboards at present. Having selected a programme that has a valid download icon, I click on the download to portable device option, and the download appears. I change the name of the programme so that it has the name and date of the programme, but nothing else is altered, such as the file extension, etc. The programme then downloads to a dedicated desktop folder, named iPlayer. The programme completes its download and all is well so far.

    The next step is to transfer the programme to my Philips player. I connect the Philips to the MSI and allow the player to set itself up. I open up the media player folders until I reach my video menu of my player. I make sure that both the folders are open on my desktop – the iPlayer folder on my computer, and the video folder on my Philips player. I then proceed to transfer the programme using drag and drop – drag from the desktop iPlayer folder and drop to the Philips video folder. The transfer completes very quickly – quicker than other media players I have used, which suggests to me that the programme is not transferring as it should.

    After the transfer is completed, I disconnect the Philips player and allow it to update the files. After the update is completed, I navigate to the video folder where the programme is located, ready to check it is present so that I can watch it at my leisure. No video icon, such as a screenshot from the programme is present, just a video camera icon, and there name of the programme, as I saved it. I try to play the programme get an error message saying “Unsupported file format detected. Use the Philips Media Converter to convert files to the device”. Obviously, the files cannot be converted in this way, due to the DRM restrictions. If I try to transfer the programme via Windows Media Player, I get an error message saying “You must get more sync rights before you can sync this file. Click on the icon for more information.” Presumably this error refers to the programme not having the DRM rights attached to it.

    I can also play the BBC iPlayer content that is on my Philips GoGear Opus while it is connected to the computer through WMP but the programme doesn’t play on the Philips GoGear Opus screen. It says on the Opus screen that it is transferring.

    I have tried copying the programme directly via WMP, as well as using my partner’s Zoostorm computer to copy them. I even tried the EEEPC, and all these options failed. They all produced the same error message. When I transferred the same programmes, off the same download, to the Bush player and the Samsung player, they worked, which suggests that no problems exist with the computer or the actual downloads. I have eliminated every option I can think of by using different media players, different computers, etc. The common denominator is the Philips player, as every other combination works fine.

    I can however download YouTube video content, convert it and play it on my Philips Opus player without any problems also regular audio such as mp3 tracks play ok.

    If I have missed any information that you think may be relevant, please feel free to ask me any questions, and I will be happy to answer them for you.

  • Comment number 39.

    Thanks Phil. That is comprehensive, and as you say, points to something specific with the Philips Opus. I'll acquire one and do some further testing and get back to you.

  • Comment number 40.

    We have now found the error we introduced at the end of November that led to this problem. It is now fixed, and in the coming days the content will gradually work again. I've provided more details on this on the iPlayer message board: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer/NF8035762?thread=7963420

    Thanks Phil for persisting in raising the problem up.

  • Comment number 41.

    It was a pleasure Jon. Is it possible to have a more robust means of contacting BBC iPlayer team to report problems? Preferably while the programme is still available.

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi Phil -I'll grant you that leaving a comment on a three month old blog is not an ideal way of fixing these kind of problems. But at least your problem was solved in the end!

    We could certainly do this better than we currently do, and I'll be exploring whether this blog could be part of that in the next few weeks.

    But I'm going to close comments on this post now.

    Thanks

 

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