iplayerStating the obvious up front, the BBC’s iPlayer is a fantastic piece of work. The technical infrastructure that means the BBC doesn’t get thumped when heavy use occurs – brilliant; the integration of radio (aka The Radio Player) – logical (but politically really upset the A&M team I bet); and the eventual use of video technology so that everyone (please check your remit in advance next time Auntie) and not just Microsoft users could use the iPlayer as it suits them and showing video in great quality format. All great stuff but my goodness, didn’t it take forever and didn’t it cost a fortune!

I’ve three points about the iPlayer.

1) Kangaroo is dead – get over it. ITV and Channel 4 have got a pot to **** in. Hulu international is coming. So, why not follow your public service remit and open the iPlayer up to all UK-based broadcasters. It’s quite possible to integrate ads into BBC propositions as the international version of the online service has shown, so that C4 and ITV catered for, the increase in traffic shouldn’t be an issue as, well the BBC and partners wouldn’t be paying for it and once you’ve got revenue coming in from display and sponsorship, funnel a proportion off to the ISPs and everyone is a little happier.

Opening up the iPlayer should also include APIs. If you want your product to move with the times, and let’s be honest times move damn fast online, then let the collective intelligence out there loose on your product and stand back and the thing blossoms in ways that all those brains in London W12 never would have imagined. I know there are usage concerns etc but come on, lift your feet out of the 1980s and show some guts.

2) Social aspects. Having worked there I know that the costs of moderation are huge, I know that the general attitude is that you don’t really want to know what people think or have to say to each other via your platforms (fairplay, there are some notable exceptions in the BBC but small and tightly controlled) but come on, why is there no methodology for discussion on a programme playback page, or comments, or ratings or anything that moves it from the old experience of press play and sit back.

3) Architecture. Again, the political machinations within the BBC are a thing to behold, with stakeholders by the dozen, but take a step back, think about the users (remember them) and move the categories up front, never mind the channel brands, latest, most popular, motoring, comedy, whatever but the front page is serving too many masters and not serving the public well enough.

It’s been a year since I last really used the iPlayer and things have moved on but not enough. As the market landscape changes over the next few months, the iPlayer team better have some moves up their sleeves and their ego in check because it won’t be the only game in town for long.

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