BBC iPlayer is preparing to roll out personalisation services across its connected-TV apps in 2016 after Christmas viewing on the platform rose by a third.


During the two weeks up to 31 December, 38% of iPlayer requests were from connected TVs, including Samsung TVs, Xbox games consoles and Virgin Media set-top boxes.

Steady gains have been made across the year, but head of iPlayer Dan Taylor-Watt said there had been an upturn over the Christmas period as audiences gathered around the main television set.

He also flagged the emergence of streaming sticks, including Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire, Sky’s Now TV and Roku devices, which have helped transform traditional TVs into connected devices able to access iPlayer.

As a proportion of overall viewing, he expects connected TVs to continue to grow and take a slightly bigger slice of the pie as iPlayer becomes an increasingly mainstream proposition.

Taylor-Watt said that while there was not a huge discrepancy in the type of content that was viewed across the different platforms, “immersive” dramas, along with natural history program- ming, tended to generate more views on connected TVs.

He is now keen to personalise the iPlayer connected-TV app, following mobile, tablet and online updates that enable recommendations and cross-device pause and play functionality, and give users the ability to set favourites across mobiles, tablets and online.

But Taylor-Watt is mindful of the barriers, including the difficulty in asking users to log in via a TV remote control, as well as the fact that TVs are generally shared, rather than personal, devices.

“Offering a personalised experience in a living room isn’t easy and something the industry in general is grappling with how best to address,” he said.

“The ability to provide a signedin experience is at the heart of it and there are a lot of things we can do off the back of that - including offering access to BBC Store purchases.”

Taylor-Watt flagged live restart functionality, which is currently being rolled out across platforms, as another feature that will help attract users to iPlayer, along with a range of iPlayer exclusives, such as forthcoming snooker comedydrama The Rack Pack.