The latest incarnation of the BBC iPlayer is set to go live early this week, with the popular beta finally arriving as a full release and bringing social networking tie-ins, personalisation and a funky new design.

The BBC iPlayer has been the trailblazer for online video in demand in Britain, and the BBC's latest version, iPlayer 3, has been available to play around with in beta.

"The BBC iPlayer team are very excited about the latest developments going live... this is a big step for the product, and its users," said the BBC in a blog post.

Need for change

The BBC explains that the changes were brought in because of the growing influences of social networks like Twitter and Facebook, along with the constant desire to refine and improve the user experience.

"The impetus for change has come from two directions: firstly, we have a long-term plan to constantly evolve the site for the benefit of our audiences," added the BBC blog from James Hewins..

"A main theme here is personalisation - simply put, a way to get the programmes you love with less clicking (and thinking!).

"Secondly, we wanted to connect BBC iPlayer up with the users' online interactions with friends - to bring a social dimension to watching and listening."

Popular beta

Interestingly, the BBC also revealed that 8 per cent of the total users chose to use the beta version, and it played (marginally) more programmes per day than its predecessor/

18,000 people signed up for the social features, and a whopping 700,000 favourited or liked the top programmes, which included Sherlock, Eastenders, Top Gear and Dr Who.

So, expect to see the BBC's new iPlayer roll out this week.