The BBC's iPlayer platform is now six years old. In that time it has served up over 10 billion programme requests and 23 million app downloads, which is a testament to the terrifying popularity of Mrs Brown's Boys, but with BBC Three going off-air the Beeb has beefed up its online-only offering with a smoother, sleeker and completely re-engineered iPlayer.
The main aim of the new platform is to make TV programmes more discoverable for the 42% of people who arrive on iPlayer with no idea what they're going to watch. The layout of the front page has been changed, with finer subdivisions made between categories - so you don't have to wade through all of 'Factual' to find that otter documentary - and collections of programmes grouped by series, event or theme.
There's an improved EPG, too, which jumps quickly to prime-time when you click on one of the previous seven days, and improved playback features - if you're watching something that's on TV now, you can jump to the beginning or to the previous programme just by clicking on the playback progress bar.
You’ll also be able to sign in to the new iPlayer, which should help you find programmes more easily. Regarding the slightly un-BBC data collection this will involve, a BBC spokesperson stated that, “We don’t want the data for advertising, or for anything other than a great content experience”.
Lessons from Netflix
The Beeb devoted much of this morning's press conference to talking about the new content that's being commissioned for iPlayer before traditional TV. In a climate in which Netflix and Amazon are trying to position themselves as programme makers, the BBC is obviously keen to keep up, and its digital-first offerings will include some big guns - new exclusive comedy from the likes of Stewart Lee, Bob Mortimer, Frankie Boyle and Matt Berry will appear in May, and a new series of documentaries from Adam Curtis will follow in July. There will also be something with Mickey Flanaghan in it, and Goldie will be making a programme about Matisse paintings.
Further down the line, the BBC plans to extend the 7-day on demand service to 30 days, and to introduce more online-only offerings, such as a video channel for Radio 1. No word yet on 4K streams (unlike Netflix), but we live in hope of the Beeb producing a Planet Earth-style showcase of what the next generation of TV will truly be capable of.