BBC iPlayer 3.0: Twitter and Facebook make it wePlayer

Social networking is the order of the day with the third iteration of the BBC's iPlayer, as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo get some love from the broadcaster's online service

Patrick Steen Special to CNET News
2 min read

In an endeavour to make the BBC iPlayer more social, the public funded broadcaster is investing its money integrating Facebook, Twitter and Bebo into the player's third iteration. The question is do we actually want people to know what programmes we're watching late at night?

Speaking during The Guardian's Changing Media Summit 2010, the BBC's wonderfully named Eric Huggers explained that it would be "madness" for the broadcaster to develop its own social network, so instead it has formed partnerships with the best of the bunch.

Huggers, the Beeb's head of future media and technology (perks include commuting in the Tardis), said these partnerships have been in place for some time, but will only greet consumers in the imminent launch of iPlayer 3.0's beta version, The Telegraph reports.

"We are close to launching the third version of the iPlayer in beta which will have many more social functions embedded within it," said Huggers. "People will be able to bring their Facebook friends on to the iPlayer so they can share what they're listening to or watching with each other more easily."

As if Facebook and Twitter weren't everywhere already, users will be required to sign into the BBC site and then provide their social-networking login details, allowing automatic connection each and every time they access the iPlayer. The integration will allow users to see what their friends or followers are watching through pop-up "coloured puffs" beneath the player. "@MayorOfLondon is watching Embarrassing Bodies." Joy.

Huggers added that the partnerships will have more wide-reaching implementations than just through iPlayer. Although he would not be drawn on what this entailed, he did disclose that his vision of the BBC's online presence was as a location where users could personalise their own experience.

"This might mean in the near future we end up with 60 million different versions of one service tailored to an individual's needs," Huggers explained.

Sounds expensive for an online department that has been tasked with cutting its budget by 25 per cent. Reducing yearly spending by around £33m is no mean feat and will involve the culling of 200 top-level domains by 2012. Automatically generated status updates are worth a few job losses, right? Oh.