BBC iPlayer Gets More Social, Embedded on More Devices

The BBC released the latest version of its iPlayer on Monday, with more social capabilities and integration with more connected TVs, Blu-ray players and other devices. The new design is aimed at making the player more personalized and driving user engagement by allowing users to more easily interact with friends.

The Beeb is releasing the new iPlayer several months after enabling users to access it as part of a public beta in May. In that release, the public broadcaster sought to enable users to make the site their own, surfacing more personalized content so that users don’t have to search too hard to find the videos they want to watch. The new iPlayer also has more a more social feel, connecting with sites like Twitter and Facebook so that users could share what they were watching with friends, and quickly tune into what their friends were watching.

While it’s still early days, the BBC has seen some takeup of the new social features. According to a blog post on the BBC Internet blog, the broadcaster had 18,000 beta users connect their accounts with their Twitter or Facebook profiles. Beta users added more than 700,000 programs to their favorites, with an average of 2.5 favorites a piece. Beta users quickly made up 8 percent of all iPlayer usage, which jumped to 10 percent before the new features were rolled out as a more general release. And beta users watched slightly more programming on the beta site than users of the old iPlayer, with 2.4 programs per day compared to 2.3 for old iPlayer users.

In addition to rolling out social features on the web version of the iPlayer, the BBC announced that it is working with consumer electronics manufacturers to make the application more widely available on connected TVs, Blu-ray players and other devices. At the IFA show last week, the BBC announced that it was partnering with computer manufacturers like Sony (s SNE) to pre-install the iPlayer AIR application on its laptops. The broadcaster is also working on an app for the iPad, after the BBC Trust granting it the ability to release mobile apps.

While the BBC said it would work with CE manufacturers like Toshiba on iPlayer implementations, it is relying on the big-screen iPlayer, which is accessible from devices that have web browsers — such as the Sony PlayStation 3 or the Nintendo Wii.

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