BBC launches new beta iPlayer with social network features

The BBC has launched a new beta version of its iPlayer online catch-up service.

New features include a simplified user interface, enhanced personalisation and the addition of social networking features to allow audiences to share and recommend content on Facebook and Twitter as well as within the iPlayer itself.

The BBC said it would look to conclude similar partnerships with other social networking sites.

The BBC also plans to add links to programmes from ITV Player, 4oD, Clic, Demand Five and SeeSaw later this summer, following so-called “metadata partnership” deals with ITV, Channel 4, S4C, Five and Arqiva. The deals mean that audienced looking for long-form content from the other providers will be directed to their sites, without any sharing of technology or syndication of content.

The broadcaster has also struck a partnership with Microsoft to allow Windows Live Messenger users to log in to their messaging service through iPlayer, enabling them to invite other contacts to watch programmes at the same time and chat live. The BBC has said that the latter is an experimental feature, which will be available in beta later in the summer. If it proves successful, the BBC plans to extend it to other instant messaging services.

iPlayer delivered 123 million streams of TV and radio programmes in April, according to the BBC.

The BBC’s executive has separately recommended to the BBC Trust that the broadcaster should not make its shows available to third-party operators for on-demand services on an unbundled basis, meaning that distribution partners would have to carry iPlayer-branded services to show BBC programmes on-demand. The BBC has said it will consider customised versions of the service only in the case of platforms with more than 500,000 users, while smaller modifications will be possible for platforms of over 100,000 users.