Advanced Television

BBC Together programme-sharing trial

May 19, 2020

By Colin Mann

Family, friends, and classmates can now watch and listen to BBC programmes together even when they’re apart, with BBC Together, a new experiment from BBC Research & Development. Available now on Taster, the experimental platform where the BBC tests new ideas and technologies, BBC Together lets people watch and listen to video and audio content from iPlayer, Sounds, Bitesize, News and Sport at exactly 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 if viewers want to binge-watch new drama Normal People or the latest episode of spy-action thriller Killing Eve with their friends, practice their Spanish on Bitesize with classmates or exercise remotely to Radio 1’s Workout Anthems music mix with their family, they can now do that all at the same time.

There are three steps to set up a session in BBC Together:

  • Choose a programme – Whoever’s hosting can paste a link to BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds, or any Bitesize, News or Sport audio or video content that they’re looking to play
  • Invite friends – Once the programme is picked, the host will be given a link to share with the small group of friends, family or others that they’d like to join the session
  • Watch or listen together – The host just needs to press play to get it started, and can also pause, rewind and skip forward or choose a different programme for everyone to watch at once, all in sync with one another

“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,” commented Dr Libby Miller, senior R&D producer at BBC R&D. “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.”

BBC Together is now available to test, rate and share on the Taster platform.

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