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BBC reveals iPlayer plans: 30 day catch up, radio playlists, 4K Ultra HD streaming

The BBC has revealed plans to extend the iPlayer’s 7 day catch-up window to 30 days. 

The next generation of the popular on-demand service will come with pop-up channels for events such as Glastonbury and Wimbledon and will become a portal for more exclusive content. 

Expanding on the trials of BBC Three and BBC Four content, the BBC wants the iPlayer to be home to more original content. Online-only episodes of Doctor Who, EastEnders and Strictly Come Dancing will be available, as will more online channels, similar to the Radio 1 channel announced recently. 

BBC reveals iPlayer plans: 30 day catch up, radio playlists, 4K Ultra HD streaming
BBC teases us with the prospect 4K Ultra HD streams

Read our guides to BBC iPlayer and 4K Ultra HDBBC director general, Tony Hall, says: “The new generation of BBC iPlayer is set to transform our relationship with audiences. In the coming years, for many people BBC iPlayer is going to be the front door to our programming and the experience they have is going to be a world away from that of a traditional ‘one to many’ broadcaster. 

“It will be a relationship where we provide our audiences with what they want, when and how they want it. And crucially through enhanced interactivity, they will also be able to tell us what they think of these programmes and services too.” 

Viewers will be able to pick and choose content by creating personalised channels from a mix of BBC outlets. You could queue up episodes of Top Gear, add in episodes of QI or Science Britannica, picking from whatever branch of the BBC’s tree you liked. 

Danny Cohen, director of BBC Television, adds: “From new programming exclusive to BBC iPlayer, to new online and pop-up channels around special interests or major events, BBC iPlayer will be bursting with more content than ever. We want to allow viewers to make the choices about what they watch and when.

“Over time, more and more of our programmes will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer before they are broadcast on TV, allowing viewers to create their own evening schedule. And, programmes will be available for longer – increasing the catch-up window from seven to 30 days. All this will make BBC iPlayer the ultimate destination for TV fans for years to come.” 

BBC reveals iPlayer plans: 30 day catch up, radio playlists, 4K Ultra HD streaming

Though the BBC haven’t announced anything formally, it looks as though the new iPlayer will include 4K Ultra HD streams as well. A video (below) showing how a new-look iPlayer would operate shows off an Ultra HD option at the 01:10 mark. 

All the talk about online exclusives suggests that the BBC could stream 4K on iPlayer before a traditional broadcast. 4K Ultra HD broadcast standards haven’t been determined and it’s up to the DTG UK UHD Forum, of which the BBC is a member, to work these out. But 4K streams might not have to comply to the same rules as a broadcast format, so we could see 4K on the iPlayer first. 

Another new feature lined up for future versions of iPlayer include the ability to pause watching a show on one device and continue watching in another, a bookmarking feature that’s similar to how Netflix, Lovefilm and Sky Go work across devices. 

A new version of BBC iPlayer will launch in the first half of 2014. It’s not yet known how many of these announced features will be available then, as the BBC is describing the relaunch as ‘the first step towards this new vision’ suggesting a series of updates. 


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