Tennis fans keen to catch all the action from this weekend’s Wimbledon finals are in luck, as BBC iPlayer has made it even easier for some viewers to restart live BBC programmes.
With the push of a single button, viewers with compatible connected set-top-boxes can now watch programmes from the beginning directly from their electronic programme guide (EPG), without having to wait for them to be made available on-demand afterwards.
Live restart was pioneered by BBC iPlayer, and has been available for web and mobile browsers and for viewers watching on connected TVs for some time.
Dan Taylor-Watt, head of BBC iPlayer, says: “Live restart is one of BBC iPlayer’s most popular features, particularly as more and more people are watching live.”
Indeed, already more than half of people watching BBC iPlayer live on TVs use live restart, and almost one in five BBC iPlayer viewers across all platforms use it.
Starting with Freesat, it’s now being made part of an EPG for the first time, bringing the feature to even more people. The BBC hopes to roll this out to other connected TV platforms in the future.
“It’s the first integration of its kind, but we hope to work with more partners in the future to bring this function to as many people as possible,” adds Taylor-Watt.
BBC iPlayer launches live restart for mobiles
9th September 2016
BBC iPlayer has introduced live restart viewing for mobile devices.
The site first launched almost 10 years ago as a way to catch up on BBC programmes, but live-streaming has become as much a part of the VOD service as its on-demand viewing. And mobiles are a big part of that: the platform is the most popular online TV service in the UK, available on over 10,000 different devices and downloaded 40 million times from mobile app stores.
The ability to restart a programme that’s being steamed live is a key part of that growth – after all, there’s nothing more annoying than missing the start of The Great British Bake Off. First launched on computers in time for the London 2012 Olympics, Live Restart has proved to be a hugely popular feature. Last summer, the Beeb rolled the feature out to connected TV devices. Now, it’s coming to Android and iOS mobile and tablet apps.
“Our most recent app update introduced the ability to pause and rewind live TV and you’ll soon be able jump back to the start of a programme on your mobile or tablet with a single tap,” says Dan Taylor-Watt, Head of BBC iPlayer, in a blog detailing the newest app updates.
“We’ve also recently made it easier to access BBC iPlayer’s Live Restart feature on connected TVs by adding access from the Red Button+ home screen. Red Button+ is available on a wide range of connected TV sets and via YouView and Virgin TiVo.”
The update arrives at the end of a summer of live-streaming, thanks to Glastonbury, Wimbledon, The Euros and The Olympics. Together, they helped BBC iPlayer reach an average of 16 million unique browsers a week in June, July & August – up 37 per cent on the same period last year.
In May of this year, the BBC also began streaming live events not broadcast on TV on iPlayer, enabling the site to show live performances from six stages at Glastonbury and up to 24 live simultaneous streams from Rio. In the week ending the 14th August, live accounted for 46 per cent of total iPlayer viewing time.
Other upgrades for iPlayer include making HD (720p 50fps) the default for on-demand playback on computers and connected TVs that support Adaptive Bitrate (ABR), which enables the video quality to be automatically adjusted in response to how much bandwidth you have available at any given moment. BBC One HD has also been made available to watch live on computers and connected TVs.
Another big update in the pipeline is “visual seeking”, which allows you to scroll through a video timeline and, a la Netflix and YouTube, see images from the programme appear as thumbnails, enabling you to jump straight to the moment you’re looking for. This will be available “very soon” on the iPlayer website and will roll out to iPlayer TV and mobile apps in the coming year.