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Summer of sport boosts iPlayer

iPlayer across four screens light backgroundThe BBC reported a 37% increase in summer iPlayer traffic this year thanks to major sporting events, and said it is bringing a raft of new updates to the online player.

Live coverage of Glastonbury, Wimbledon, The Euros and The Olympics helped BBC iPlayer, the on-demand player of the UK pubcaster, reach an average of 16 million unique browsers a week in June, July and August, up 37% compared to the same period a year earlier.

In the week ending August 14, the BBC also said that live accounted for 46% of total iPlayer viewing time. The broadcaster started to stream non-televised events through the iPlayer earlier this year and during the Olympics offered 24 live simultaneous streams of sport.

The news came as the BBC teased a number of technical updates that are coming to the iPlayer, including the rollout of ‘Live Restart’ on the iPlayer mobile and tablet app for Android and iOS.

The feature, which lets viewers tap a button to start watching a live programme from the start, launched on connected TVs last summer and is due to come to mobile devices “shortly”.

The BBC is also due to roll out ‘visual seeking’ to the iPlayer TV and mobile apps in the coming year.

This feature means that when a user hover over the progress bar and they can see images from the programme as thumbnails, making it easier to navigate to a specific part of a show.

Additionally, the BBC said it is now making HD the default for on-demand playback on computers and connected TVs that support adaptive bitrate streaming, which enables the video quality to be automatically adjusted in response to how much bandwidth is available.

“There are lots more enhancements to BBC iPlayer in the pipeline including the roll out of subtitles on our live channels [already available on computers as a ground-breaking trial], an archive category, enabling easier, cross-platform discovery of the 400+ archive programmes now available on BBC iPlayer [thanks to BBC Four Collections] and a raft of personalisation features to make it even easier for you to discover and enjoy great BBC TV,” said Dan Taylor-Watt, head of iPlayer, BBC Digital.

“We’re also continuously working with manufacturers to improve the performance of iPlayer on their devices. For example, we’re currently working closely with Google on improving the Google Cast experience in iPlayer, before rolling out the feature to the BBC iPlayer Kids app, which launched in April and has already been downloaded over half a million times.”