BBC iPlayer 3 ties in with social networks

The BBC has unveiled the latest version of the iPlayer service – a customisable upgrade that includes links with Facebook and Twitter allowing users to share content via the social media networks.

Other broadcasters including ITV, Channel 4 and Five will also benefit from iPlayer’s traffic for the first time, with the service offering links through to the VOD players of rivals.

The tie-up with Facebook and Twitter, which will allow iPlayer users to recommend programming to their friends as long as they log into the BBC website first, forms part of a strategy to make the service more social. However, users will have to sign up to the BBC’s own website ID service, already used for posting comments on the site, so that the corporation can maintain a “complete social eco-system” with iPlayer users.

BBC director of future, media and technology Erik Huggers stressed that this was not the first step in turning the BBC iPlayer into a full social networking website. “Does the BBC need to build its own social network? I think the answer is no. We want to integrate with other services,” he said.

The main 'social' adds are: integrating web-embedded Windows Live Messenger on episode pages so viewers can chat about live and on-demand shows along with IM friends – this feature will be in an updated beta in two weeks time. Other chat applications may be added later depending on this one's popularity.

Viewers can connect their Facebook and Twitter profiles to their BBC iD, then, they can recommend programmes to their and see shows recommended by their Twitter and Facebook friends.

A new “Friends” panel appears on the iPlayer homepage. But there's no social graph made from BBC iD profiles themselves – rather, viewers will see the viewing habits of their Facebook and Twitter friends, which are pulled in via BBC iD.

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