BBC iPlayer About to Go Social

BBC sites are responsible for 40 percent of the visits to iPlayer, according to Hitwise.

The BBC will make viewing of its on-demand videos more social by adding Facebook, Twitter and Bebo integration into its widely popular iPlayer online video application, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. The addition of more social sharing features has the potential to greatly increase usage and viewer engagement for the iPlayer, which continues to post record numbers month after month.

In an interview with the Telegraph, the BBC’s director of future media and technology, Erik Huggers, said that social sharing features would be built into the iPlayer 3.0 beta, which is set to launch soon. According to Huggers, partnerships with the various social networking sites have already been signed, but the Beeb has been waiting until the release of the newest version of its player before making the new features available to users.

The integration will allow users to easily share what they are watching or listening to with friends and contacts on the social networking site. But for the integration to work, they will have to first register an account and log into the BBC iPlayer before adding their Facebook, Twitter and Bebo information to that account. Once that information is stored, they will no longer have to log into the services separately to post updates to their account from the iPlayer.

We’ve long believed that media companies can benefit by adding more social features around online video viewing. As we’ve seen in the case of CNN’s integration with Facebook at the Obama inauguration, social networks can do a lot to drive interest in online video, particularly for live events.

While the iPlayer could see a boost from social sharing, the video catchup service is doing just fine on its own, posting record numbers (again!) for the month of February. The iPlayer site was visited by an average of 1.4 million people per day , with 3.5 million requests for TV and radio programs during the month. But the most telling stat might be the amount of time viewers spent on the site. iPlayer viewers spent more than an hour — 64 minutes — catching up on TV programs online.

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