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The future is mobile for iPlayer

by Sarah Griffiths on 14 February 2011, 12:12

Tags: BBC

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The BBC's head of on-demand programming has confirmed the desire to make iPlayer more mobile-friendly and has shared various future plans.

With a major advertising push and a new man at the helm, BBC iPlayer has enjoyed 4 record-breaking months and has just launched its apps for the iPad and Android, which Daniel Danker, head of on-demand programming at the Beeb believes marks a turning point, The Guardian reported.

While iPlayer reportedly had 162m requests in January, marking an increase of 35 percent on January 2010, around two thirds of them were made by people watching iPlayer online in their homes, yet Danker still believes the future is mobile.

"The ratio of growth we're seeing [of mobile viewing] is incredible," he reportedly said.

The iPad and Android apps were released last week and despite many people voicing their disappointment in the new features, some 54,511 iPad apps were reportedly downloaded in the 24 hours following the launch and mobile viewing accounted for 5 percent of iPlayer streaming, up from 1 percent in January.

Danker reportedly said: "I'm not a betting man, but if I was then I'd bet that this will continue to grow. It's about to really climb. The share of how people are viewing TV [via the iPlayer] will look meaningfully different at the end of this year."

Interestingly the growth in the number of iPlayer requests from mobile devices outpaced PC growth by more than 2 to 1 and growth on tablets sped past PCs by over 20 to 1, according to the newspaper.

Apparently iPlayer streaming from Android phones rocketed 228 percent in the 24 hours following the app's launch, while iPad viewing soared by 111 percent, demonstrating people's desire to catch up with TV from Auntie on the go.

Danker reportedly said: "This gives us a really clear signal where things are headed. The increase in viewing away from the PC and outside the living room is nurturing what he called "an expansion of prime time".

"When the traditional prime time ends and families do different things - some go to sleep, some leave the living room, others do work - what happens is that people go into their bedroom and are watching on their tablets or on their mobile. That's super interesting to us,"

"But people are obviously also interested in using the iPlayer outside of the home, which is a motivating statistic because it shows that it's not just a utility, but continues to drive innovation," he reportedly added.

Danker revealed that the next generation of iPlayer apps "will be incredibly connected and rich when disconnected", moving away from the need for a Wi-Fi connection, which many people criticised in the present app.  Apparently there will also be the option of offline viewing due to downloads.

Future incarnations of iPlayer could also boast shareability of favourite programmes, allowing for discussion as well as debuting on the Xbox console.

"I'm trying to hold back on instincts to build everything in the next year or so, because audience feedback will develop over time. But our intention is to make this available in as many places as possible, to audiences of scale," Danker reportedly added.

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