The BBC’s iPlayer service is to allow viewers to catch up on every episode of some of their favourite series with the introduction of a new “series stacking” feature set to go live from 13 September 2008.
In a major change to the service viewers will be able to enjoy any episode, after it has first been broadcast, for the duration of the entire series. At present episodes are only available for seven days after transmission.
BBC Vision’s Simon Nelson says the new feature will allow viewers “to join a series half way through following a friend’s recommendation and catch up on all the previous episodes – or watch them all in one go over a weekend.”
In a move likely to be welcomed by non-Windows users the feature will first be introduced to the online version of the iPlayer. The corporation was criticised by open rights advocates and users or other operating systems for failing to be ‘platform-neutral’ and initially launching the service as a Windows only download-based offering.
In January Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh wrote to BBC Director General Mark Thompson who suggested the decision to favour Microsoft’s operating system was “effectively illegal state aid”. Thompson later used a blog post to defend the decision, claiming “we are aiming to launch a download version of BBC iPlayer for Mac this year.“
Despite the decision to focus on a Windows download version it was the introduction of the browser-based streaming version which made the service a success with BBC bosses admitting “Streams are outnumbering downloads by a factor of eight to one”.