BBC Outlines Plans For iPlayer At Samsung Smart TV App Day

Believing that internet-enabled televisions (IETVs) with web-connected applications will experience the greatest growth over the next 12 months, BBC has outlined a series of improvements for its popular iPlayer video-on-demand (VoD) service to capitalise on this trend.

Addressing a group of software developers at UK’s inaugural Samsung Smart TV Application Developer Day in London, BBC’s senior business development manager Charles Tigges said that Smart TVs would bring the most traffic growth to BBC iPlayer in the year 2011, and revealed some of the developments the broadcaster is planning for its free video-on-demand service.

Although BBC iPlayer was recently rated as the best catch-up TV service by London-based online usability consultancy Webcredible, the review panel suggested that VoD services could increase their appeal by offering more interactive elements – such as social media integration and bonus features – to engage viewers.

BBC is certainly listening. Having recently embedded links to social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and Windows Live Messenger on the PC version of BBC iPlayer, the broadcaster is looking to implement similar functionalities on the TV version of BBC iPlayer found on certain connected TV platforms such as Samsung’s Internet@TV and Sony’s Bravia Internet Video.

Mr Tigges also proposed a future scenario where the BBC iPlayer catch-up TV service could be accessed directly through on-screen icons ala the interactive red-button service. He gave an example of a viewer clicking an icon on screen while watching Top Gear on a BBC channel, which would then summon a selection of previous Top Gear episodes to be played back on demand.

Other additional features in the pipeline for the BBC iPlayer include companion-device remote access (e.g. being able to playback an iPlayer programme on the TV by selecting it on a compatible mobile phone) and interactive games based on the broadcaster’s TV series (like Doctor Who). Since Mr Tigges was speaking at a Samsung Smart TV conference, Samsung’s internet-enabled HDTVs would probably be the first to benefit from these proposed upgrades, whereas similar offerings from other brands may have to wait their turn.