Favourites: How BBC iPlayer is becoming more like Netflix
James R | On 08, Apr 2015
The BBC has made it possible to sync your favourites on iPlayer across multiple devices. The new feature, which was quietly announced on Twitter at the end of March without any fanfare, is a small, but significant step for the Beeb’s catch-up service.
Personalisation has increasingly become a key part of the VOD industry. For Netflix, with its data-driven menus and recommendations, it helps users find content they like and discourages the searching for content that isn’t available. For 4oD, it makes it possible to target adverts at viewers of certain interests or demographics.
Even with complaints of inaccurate recommendations, users are willing to join in: half of all Brits aged between 16 and 34 have registered an account with Channel 4.
The BBC has introduced its own BBC iD system, which helps to personalise user experiences. Now, though, it has taken a further step.
“Sign-in added to @BBCiPlayer Android and iOS apps today enabling you to sync your favourites between the iPlayer website and mobile apps,” tweeted Dan Taylor-Watt, Head of BBC iPlayer.
The update to both iOS and Android apps means that iPlayer will no longer offer an isolated experience on different devices: users can see the same collection of favourited content on their mobile, as well as on the computer. Pause and resume cross-device playback will not yet be possible, but Taylor-Watt confirms that it is on the way.
A BBC iD account will be required to take advantage of the new favourites service, although users can sign in through their Facebook or Google account to register.
The announcement followed a blog by Philip Almond, Director of Marketing and Audiences, who emphasised the Beeb’s commitment to becoming more like Netflix with another new iPlayer addition: a heart button.
“[I’m] part of the team that is delivering myBBC, an initiative that will give you more from the BBC in a digital age,” he wrote. “Today is a small first step in that journey.”
The heart icon, which appears on all browser versions of iPlayer will allow users to “instantly love” a programme.
“In time we want to recommend content to you that is relevant to you,” he added. “If you loved Bake Off on BBC iPlayer or A Cook Abroad on its programme page we might then direct you to a recipe on BBC Food or a clip from The Food Show on BBC Radio 4.”
Users will also be asked to sign-up for a newsletter that will highlight loved shows they might have missed, point to what they might love next week and “keep [them] informed about what’s going on across the BBC”.
Personalisation, original and exclusive content. What’s next in the BBC iPlayer’s journey to becoming a VOD giant? Playlists and an autoplay function?