FUTUREMEDIA: The BBC is looking to take its iPlayer video-on-demand service “beyond catch-up” next year with more online-only content.
Speaking at C21′s FutureMedia conference in London, Dave Price, head of BBC iPlayer, programmes and on-demand, said: “It’s not just about live TV and catch-up, which has aired on linear channels. Increasingly there are opportunities for content that hasn’t broadcast on traditional BBC channels.”
Referring to a collection of online-only comedy pilots released on iPlayer earlier this year, he said: “Those pilots had a degree of promotion, but they made their way up into the top most popular lists and really drove a lot of new usage for something that hadn’t aired on TV. So we feel the opportunity to go beyond catch-up are absolutely significant.”
Asked to expand on the BBC’s original content plans for the iPlayer, Price said it was “a little too early to say exactly what we’ll be doing in that field,” but added: “We work very closely with the channel controllers and the teams across the BBC to look at content that compliments the wider BBC offering.”
In July, BBC3 launched seven web-exclusive comedies, including a show from Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated mime act Sam Wills, on the iPlayer. Later that month BBC3 controller Zai Bennett called for the next batch of submissions for the online Feed My Funny strand. This submission process ended in September with successful pilots due to be delivered by the end of March.
Another part of the BBC iPlayer’s efforts to go “beyond catch-up” is offering live BBC channel feeds. Price said that during the Olympics, live consumption in iPlayer accounted for over 32% of all requests. However, he admitted that “live content is quite hard to find within iPlayer at the moment” and said the BBC faces the “challenge of how we draw attention to live within the product.”
Another two core pillars of the BBC’s iPlayer strategy are to go “beyond the PC” by being available on as many devices as possible and to go “beyond the tech-savvy.”
Price said that the September roll-out of a mobile programme download option on iOS devices helped to address the latter, but would not reveal how many people had used the service to date. A programme download option for Android devices is yet to be launched.
Price’s comments come just days after the BBC revealed bumper iPlayer viewing figures for October . The service passed the 200-million-requests-per-month mark, with 213 million requests for TV and radio programmes across all platforms. This was up 20% year-on-year.
During the month, 43 million programmes were requested via TV platforms – including smart TVs and games consoles – accounting for 20% of all requests. Mobile phones and tablets recorded 28 million and 21 million requests, accounting for 23% in total. This marked a mobile and tablet year-on-year increase of 168% and 236% respectively.