BBC eyes personalisation with Netflix-inspired iPlayer updates

The BBC has introduced a raft of new features to its iPlayer in a bit to hold ground against the rise of Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video

The feature update aims to build on BBC’s strategy to make the catch-up service more personal.

Among the changes is the expansion of the My Programmes feature. It already works via the iPlayer website, but will now expand to mobile devices. The feature, which requires registration, allows users to store their favourite programmes while BBC iPlayer can use the data to recommend similar content.

Live Restart – also already on the web app – will also be rolled out to smart TVs and lets TV viewers jump back to the beginning of a show at any time during the live broadcast.

Finally, cross-device pause and resume has also been introduced. Also requiring sign-in, it allows users to watch a programme on one device, pause, and continue watching from the same point on another.

Dan Taylor-Watt, head of BBC iPlayer, said: “This raft of new features promises to give users even greater control over their iPlayer experience, ensuring they’re never late for a BBC TV broadcast again and providing easy access to the programmes they’re enjoying on BBC iPlayer whether at home or on the move”.

BBC iPlayer which saw 2.6 billion TV requests across 1,700 devices and platforms in 2014. According to a recent Ofcom study, it is the largest video on-demand provider in the UK with 31 per cent of adults having used the service over the past 12 months.

While not a direct competitor, Netflix is attracting more eyeballs than ever and is the most dominant paid-for streaming service. It reached 4.4 million households (16 per cent), last year, while Amazon Prime Instant Video lagged with 1.2 million users.

However, Amazon is looking to take wider share in the UK and turned to BBC’s former Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond for an exclusive content series.

The Drum recently delved into how the BBC can remain relevant as the nations viewing habits evolve.

It comes as the BBC gears up for a comprehensive review of iPlayer under the Royal Charter, which governs the BBC. Among the key issues is the licence fee as well as cutting the volume of services it offers.

Jennifer Faull

Jen Faull is deputy news editor at The Drum with a remit to cover the latest developments in the retail and FMCG sectors. Based in London, she has interviewed major business figures including top marketers from Mondelez, Unilever, Tesco, and Lidl.

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