Users of the BBC’s iPlayer service are now able to search for shows from a range of other broadcasters and other on-demand content providers. Through metadata-sharing partnerships, users can now find programmes from ITV, Channel 4, S4C, Five, SeeSaw.com and new partner MSN Video Player, directly from the BBC iPlayer website. The initiative comes some nine months after the corporation expressed its intention to widen its search functionality.
Either by using the ‘schedule widget’, or the ‘search’ function, users will now be able to find other video on demand content, and link directly into the playback page of the chosen programme from one of the BBC partners websites. Channel 4 is currently not in the new BBC iPlayer schedule widget, but will be soon – technical issues are being addressed. However C4 is an On Demand Partner, and C4 programmes can be searched for in iPlayer
“To do this, feeds are taken from our partners periodically that contain all their programme information, both scheduled and on demand to make the programmes findable through the BBC iPlayer interface,” explained BBC Future Media and Technology Head of Audience-facing services, Programmes and On Demand Paul Clark, in a blog post.
“It’s been a while in the making, but this has been an extremely ambitious and technically complicated project. We wanted to get to a user-experience that feels intuitive and not ‘bolted on‘, even though the experience is as much reliant on the data feeds from our partners as our own engineering,” he admitted.
“We really pleased to have six partners for launch but inclusion into this programme is not limited. Any provider of UK on demand content that holds rights to video that has previously been broadcast on an OFCOM regulated channel can apply to become a BBC iPlayer partner and have their content added, so we hope to see more partners programmes appear in BBC iPlayer over time,” he said, adding that the BBC thinks that BBC Online should serve as a hub to support other UK sites and wants to double the traffic it sends externally.
“Already the BBC News product is one of the top five sites driving referrals to UK newspapers, adding value to the UK online economy and our audiences: this partnership is a good example of how the BBC iPlayer can follow in those footsteps,” he claimed. “Given the popularity of BBC iPlayer, we hope this feature will support fellow broadcasters and boost the overall uptake of video on demand. Most importantly, by helping audiences uncover great digital services that exist elsewhere on the web, we believe we’re performing an important public service.”