BBC set for iPlayer overhaul

BBC iPlayer

The BBC is working on a major update to its iPlayer media download service that will see it integrate Microsoft's Live Mesh technology alongside audio and video content.

Revealed at PDC in Los Angeles, the BBC showed a work-in-progress version of the main iPlayer site with Live Mesh features embedded in the client, including a Messenger-based friends view with presence, shared tastes and viewing histories, popular programming metrics among friend groups and interactive ratings of content.

"Live Mesh is about adding interactivity and enabling users to engage other users," said Anthony Rose, the head of the BBC's iPlayer development project.

In addition to the Live Mesh components, Rose also demonstrated forthcoming features for mobile device users looking to access streaming content from iPlayer. Though not currently available, soon users of compatible mobile devices will have a personalised view across both the desktop and device.

"We will be able to add seamless access to iPlayer content between the desktop and mobile device with all the same recommendations and the ability to pick up playing on one where you left off on the other," said Rose.

The addition of social networking and peer recommendations to the iPlayer service will likely stimulate demand further for iPlayer content at a time when ISPs in the UK are voicing concerns about the amount of bandwidth being consumed by online video services including the iPlayer, YouTube and peer-to-peer file sharing services.

Rose also hinted that the peer recommendation element of the Live Mesh integration could have a curious side-effect for users that choose to share their viewing habits with friends and contacts.

"Using Live Mesh, not only will you be able to choose your own content, but your friends will be able to choose content for you, if you want them to of course."