• BBC to unveil “biggest revamp” of iPlayer
  • Overhaul will aim to compete with likes of Netflix and Amazon
  • iPlayer to be put “at the heart” of all BBC services

I player screenshot

iPlayer: To be revamped in 2020

The BBC has unveiled its biggest ever overhaul of on-demand platform iPlayer as it looks to compete with OTT providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Director general Tony Hall announced plans to revamp iPlayer so that the service can tackle the growing OTT threat by offering viewers a platform with a “human touch”.

Hall, who is set to reveal the full scope of the changes during a speech today, is to describe the changes as a “new front door for British creativity” giving the BBC’s creative partners “unprecedented levels of creative freedom” across its channels.

BBC content director Charlotte Moore is expected to label iPlayer “the heart of everything we do” at the announcement later today. It will be “the gateway to all our programmes – a ‘total TV’ experience, which will bring everything you want from BBC television into one place for the first time.”

As part of the overhaul, which is set to go live in 2020, the BBC will give iPlayer “a new look”, while it will offer viewers live content, box sets, and podcasts, with shows set to be made available for up to 12 months following a recent Ofcom ruling.

She added: “There’s something else that makes our vision for iPlayer unique and special. In fact, it’s the vital thing. It’s curated.”

According to the i Newspaper, the BBC could also rename its traditional numbered TV channels (ie BBC1, BBC2 etc) as part of the overhaul as more viewers move to online-first consumption models.

It is the fourth time the BBC has overhauled iPlayer since its launch 12 years ago, and it comes amid an increasingly competitive OTT market, with the likes of Disney and Apple set to launch streaming services in the coming months.

Just five years ago, iPlayer had a 40% share of the UK’s streaming market, but this has fallen to around 15% due to the growth of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The BBC has also admitted that it struggles to compete with the budgets of the likes of Netflix and Amazon Video.

In September, Amazon signed an exclusive £16 million a year, three-year deal with Emmy-winner and Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge to produce exclusive new content for the platform. Meanwhile, Apple has pledged to spend around £5 billion to develop new shows.

The BBC itself has also partnered with ITV to launch BritBox in the UK later this year, though the new announcement makes it clear that iPlayer is a key focus for the public service broadcaster.