I’ve been a big fan of the BBC iPlayer ever since it first launched this time last year. And so it is with great delight to now find that the BBC have given the free Web TV service a rebuild.
The new BBC iPlayer version 2.0 is available from today in beta form, with the current software being put out to pasture on July 7th. With such a short testing period, the BBC needs all the feedback it can get.
Radio Now Included
So what’s new? The most obvious new feature is the integration between television and radio, with the BBC’s on-demand radio service now becoming part of the iPlayer.
The old static iPlayer landing page has been revamped to become a new dynamic page with many more interactive features, and a much more Web 2.0 feel to it. It’s confusing at first but after a while shows itself to be much more user-friendly.
You now get lists of the most popular shows and TV and radio highlights that are available to watch or listen to. There is even a synopsis given about each programme at the scroll of a mouse button, which should help people decide to watch programmes they didn’t necessarily visit the site to watch.
A very nice addition, which was probably much requested is the new larger playback window for viewers choosing to stream a show rather than download and watch through a media player such as WMP.
Going hand in hand with that is the new ‘automatic bookmarking’ feature which enables you to watch a programme from the place you left it. You previously had to watch it in one sitting or stream from the beginning again.
A Forward Planner
An intriguing new function is the planner that shows upcoming programmes for the next three days. This signifies the importance the BBC is placing in its digital services as rather than just being a catch-up service, it now becomes an option to watch on your PC rather than the TV.
The new version is a good step-up from the original release, and should mean the rate of acceptance of the service picks up even more than it has already. The BBC claims the service now receives five million views a day, and that is sure to continue upwards.
I predict good times ahead for the BBC on-demand service, but then, they are using our money to fund it so it’s hardly surprising that the BBC is leading the way in digital Web TV services in the UK.
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