BBC iPlayer

Taking the UK’s most iconic TV service mobile

Creating a leading media strategy for mobile

With over 170 million programs viewed monthly across web, mobile, tablet and game consoles, the BBC’s iPlayer is the television industry’s iconic digital platform. Fjord has been involved in the iPlayer’s development since the very beginning, helping it to become the definitive example of what media consumption online should look like. In 2008, the BBC asked Fjord to create a mobile version of the iPlayer that would be synonymous with the much-loved PC experience.

In 2008, no one had come up with a service compelling enough to make watching TV on a mobile device worthwhile. This meant that from the outset, the Fjord team needed to understand how they could make the BBC experience on-the-go both high quality and engaging for users. Fjord then needed to identify what type of content is best suited to viewing on the move and the contexts in which users watch TV on small screen devices.

Mobile innovation through experimentation

The team spent time talking with viewers and doing in-depth user testing to create a service that could make the most of the small screen, and provide a simple and elegant way for viewers to watch their favourite BBC programs wherever and whenever. User research uncovered that quick content discovery was key. The interface needed to minimize both scrolling and clicks to help put content front and center of the experience.

Using a highly collaborative design process involving regular design and review meetings with BBC front-end developers, the Fjord team initially created the iPlayer mobile as an interactive flash app to quickly communicate the service vision. This gave both the client and other BBC stakeholders the ammunition it needed to ‘socialise’ the concept to achieve buy-in for the mobile proposition. It was also a crucial step since the finished service needed to evolve the online design language of iPlayer and leverage the BBC’s brand DNA values, support multiple handsets and operating systems, and embrace download and social media sharing functionality.

A beautiful experience

While the iPlayer experience is rich and visual and offers access to thousands of programs, it is also an experience that is elegant and easy to use. The iPlayer builds upon the BBC’s rich heritage as a world leader in quality programming, achieving deserved acclaim for its quality of service and breadth of content. As the backdrop and catalyst to the service itself, only the BBC could ensure the depth of knowledge and resources required to bring iPlayer to life and build a valuable brand property to a challenging audience.

Thanks to these qualities, the iPlayer remains one of the most talked about platforms in broadcasting.

The service has won numerous awards, including the GSMA’s Global Mobile Award for best Mobile Music/Video in 2009.