BBC teams up with Facebook for iPlayer revamp

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The Independent Tech

The BBC has teamed up with Facebook and Twitter to allow iPlayer users to share favourite shows and recommend them to others as part of a major revamp of the on-demand service announced today.



Other innovations will allow viewers to book programmes to download in advance, channel hop quickly and, eventually, search for programmes on other channels.

The new version will also mean users can store their favourites and create their own user IDs allowing them to log on to other computers to access the shows they want.

The overhaul of the iPlayer - which saw record usage last month as people accessed TV and radio shows 123 million times - is designed to make it simpler.

The iPlayer launched in 2007 and allows viewers to watch shows which have been screened in the past week, as well as watching them online as they go out live.

A "beta" version of the online gadget went live on the BBC website this morning. It separates TV and radio into separate sections, rather than merging them as before.

Changes announced today also make it easier to personalise and incorporate social networking.

Facebook users can paste recommendations on their wall and pass on links to shows. The site also quickly generates web addresses for shows to allow Twitter users to link to programmes.

In the summer, a partnership with Microsoft will enable Windows Live Messenger users to log in to the service through the iPlayer and chat live during shows. It will be extended to other messaging services.

Favourite shows can be chosen which allow playlists to be created and new shows will be flagged up, as well as shows which are about to expire.

Erik Huggers, the BBC director of future media and technology, said: "The launch of this version of the BBC iPlayer is part of our strategy to do fewer things even better and make it more simple, personal and connected.

"We must no longer try to do everything online, but focus on delivering genuinely world-class products like BBC iPlayer - which audiences love and which really embodies the BBC's core mission in a digital age.

"BBC iPlayer gives audiences greater control over the programmes they enjoy, guarantees subscription-free access to BBC content in an on-demand world, and provides better value for the content they have already paid for."

Under the BBC strategy review, which was unveiled in March and is now being considered by the BBC Trust, the corporation is aiming for drastic cutbacks in the number of web pages.

Joanna Shields, European vice president for Facebook, said: "The BBC's use of Facebook's social plug-ins transforms BBC iPlayer into a customised social experience for each of our 23 million UK users.

"By integrating Facebook within BBC iPlayer, the BBC is enabling people to share their favourite content and discover the content their friends are recommending and watching."

In the next few months iPlayer users will be able to find links to programmes from other broadcasters through their on-demand players. These include ITV Player, 4oD, Clic, Demand Five and SeeSaw.

Mr Huggers said: "As we focus on what public service means in a digital age, we are working to set clear boundaries for BBC online. We don't want to build a social network, microblogging or instant messaging service.

"But through a greater emphasis on strategic partnerships, we can harness the benefits of the web to enrich the audience's interaction with our content and support other content providers."

He added: "The new BBC iPlayer reflects public service broadcasting in the digital era."

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