BBC Together: BBC trials new way to watch programmes with others
James R | On 20, May 2020
The BBC is experimenting with new ways to bring viewers closer to each other with the new service BBC Together.
Family, friends, and classmates can now watch and listen to BBC programmes together even when they’re apart with the experimental new feature, which has been produced by the Beeb’s Research & Development team. Available now through BBC Taster, the Beeb’s experimental platform for trialling new tests and technology, BBC Together lets people watch and listen to video and audio content from iPlayer, Sounds, Bitesize, News and Sport at the same time.
The lockdown period has seen BBC iPlayer become more popular than ever and this new online tool offers them a novel way to enjoy programmes from iPlayer as a shared experience. So viewers can now, for example, binge-watch Normal People or the latest episode of spy-action thriller Killing Eve with their friends.
To use the service, head to bbc.co.uk/taster/pilots/bbc-together, enter a link to the BBC iPlayer, Sounds, Bitesize, News or Sport content you want to play, then invite others to join you. They will receive a link to join your watch party session and then you can play, pause, rewind and fast forward with each person’s device updating in sync.
“We don’t really know if there is an appetite for synchronised audio and video in this form,” said the Beeb’s R&D team on their blog. “We think that there might be – there are many “experience together” applications launching, hinting at new, sociable ways to consume content. But we don’t know who this might be most useful for, nor which kinds of BBC programmes people want to watch in this way.”
Dr Libby Miller, senior R&D producer at BBC R&D, adds: “There may be physical distance between us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy great programmes with our friends, family, colleagues and classmates. We wanted to see if technology could bring people together to watch and listen to BBC shows remotely as a shared experience, which we’ve done with BBC Together. It’s important to say that it’s just a test at this stage – and we’ll be monitoring how well it works and thinking about how we could change it in the future, but we’re looking forward to seeing and hearing about the creative ways that people use it and getting their feedback on Taster.”