Sunday 6 July 2008

iPlayer 2.0 live at last

Well it's Sunday morning and i'm listening to last week's Gilles Peterson show from BBC Radio 1 via the newly released BBC iPlayer 2.0, which slunk out of formal beta on Friday afternoon (4th July). Yes, Friday afternoon. Great time to launch a big new project huh? We'll be integrating the new iPlayer pop-out console into our BBC radio and music sites this coming week - keep an eye out from Monday on 1Xtra and 6Music to start with.

Anyway, from what i can see it seems to be working pretty well. The audio quality is frankly a huge improvement over the old BBC Radio Player Real streams which were 44kbps. 128kbps flash streams sound, well, proper. On my home set up using Logitech Z4 speakers it sounds as good as listening to anything thru' iTunes.

Love the fact that it remembers what i've listened to and lets me resume where i left off - it's going to be one of those features which comes in really handy.

There's still lots to do with some programme images not looking right, with programme titles not working in this environment and not being prominent enough, with poor quality programmes descriptions, with some programmes turning up in the wrong genres and therefore being recommended ("More Like This") inappropriately, with some on-demand shows still playing in Real not Flash, and the whole thing sometimes defaults to the Text Only version for some reason. But hey, it's a new product and it's a step change in the BBC's online offer.

The really interesting thing for me is how many people are now going to discover radio programmes despite coming to iPlayer to watch a TV programme? If we get this right, we could see a nice increase in the number of people listening to on-demand radio via internet. And it'll expose lots of programmes which are not on in mainstream listening hours, which, imho, are some of the best programmes the BBC produces. There'll be traffic the other way too - from existing users of the Radio Player who discover online TV via the new "tv and radio together" interface.

Back to Gilles, then maybe some Deviation from 1Xtra, then Jazz on 3. Oh yes.

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