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BBC iPlayer catch-up being extended to 30 days

iplayer_1The BBC iPlayer catch-up service will be extended from seven days to a 30-day window soon, along with new features including a Radio 1 video player within iPlayer, according to iPlayer chief Dan Taylor, speaking at Informa’s TV Connect event this morning.

Taylor also said that the new version of iPlayer launched on a limited number of devices this week will be rolled out to native tablet and smartphone apps over the coming months.

Taylor said the new version had been testing well so far with positive feedback.

Taylor said the BBC was ready to extend the services to a to a 30-days standards window and add new channels such as a Radio 1 video channel when it gets permission from the BBC Trust.

He said changes to iPlayer could now be made more quickly as the technology underpinning the service was now “converging around HTML5”, which had enabled it to extend to new devices and changes to be made to theuser interface more easily.

Taylor said that ‘Responsive Design’ technology had enabled the BBC to strip down the number of versions it needs to test on different devices before launching new features.

He cited theexample of Chromecast support, added to iPlayer with the European launch of Chromecast yesterday. “This is another convenient way of getting content onto the biggest screen in the house,” he said.

Taylor indicated that the BBC had not entirely given up on plans for international player services in the wake of the winding down of the GlobaliPlayer, which was rolled out on iOS on a trial basis in a number of territories. “The global rights picture is not that straightforward,” he said.

While the BBC would continue to look to develop on-demand services internationally, the approach is likely to differ by territory, he said.

Taylor said the new version of iPlayer had been designed with multiscreen devices in mind and had been designed to facilitate the fast release of new features across those devices.

He said content discovery was central to the design of the new interface. He said 42% of iPlayer visitors came without a particular programme in mind. The new design includes a ‘one click’ navigation bar on the top and a ‘find tools’ panel at the left hand side to enable easier search for content.

The find tools include auto-suggest functionality and user history as well as a straight A-Z list of shows and a search box for the 58% of users who are looking for a particular show.

The new design also includes a seven-day backwards and forwards EPG, while live restart functionality has been extended not only to cover the current programme being aired but the previous programme shown on that channel as well.

The main part of the screen also allows users to swipe through a range of popular programmes to find something to watch.

They screen now includes preview features of upcoming shows as well as the ability to search content by channels and a breakdown of programme genres into more granular sub-genres to enable faster and easier search.

Users can also toggle to a list of all programmes within a particular genre to search in a more traditional way.

The UI automatically resizes itself to match the size of the screen through responsive design. “This avoids the need to build separate version of iPlayer for different screen sizes,” he said.

Taylor said downloading for offline viewing was becoming more popular and the new design enables this more easily.

The new iPlayer also allows users to browse through archive content for the first time, with additional content available to complement shows that are aired on the TV.

At the end of each video play the iPlayer provides a number of recommendations and also provides links to non iPlayer content such as the new iWonder guides online.