BBC iPlayer to be 're-invented' by 2020

In an effort to keep up with big online streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, the BBC is planning to re-invent the iPlayer with the aim of becoming the UK’s top online streaming service by 2020.

The changes are to be announced by the BBC Director General Lord Hall when he addresses his staff as the BBC enters its new charter period.

According to Mr Hall, while “iPlayer was the biggest revolution of the last charter” it now needs to “make the leap from a catch-up service to a must-visit destination in its own right”.

Bid to be the best

How might the service achieve its goal? Through three strategic priorities, which fall under the headings of creativity, culture and global ambition.

These headings don’t really tell us much, but in terms of specifics it’s anticipated that one possible change could see the BBC taking binge-watching enabling tips from Amazon and Netflix, by allowing users to download entire series before they appear on television.

Lord Hall is expected to say that the BBC must find new ways to embrace technology, and make using its service a more personal experience for viewers, if it has any hope of remaining a power in the TV streaming market.

To become the number one online TV service in the UK by 2020, the BBC would have to double its online viewership. It’s a lofty goal, but recent figures have shown that 2016 was iPlayer’s best year yet in terms of audience, so at the very least the BBC only has to continue its growth rather than turn things around. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.