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BBC reports ‘best year ever’ for streaming service iPlayer

UK pubcaster the BBC has said the iPlayer recorded its “best year ever in 2017” after adding more boxsets, archive shows and personalisation features.

Company stats reveal that viewers of the catch-up and on-demand service streamed 272 million programmes per month on average in 2017, with total requests growing to 3.3 billion – an 11% increase on the previous year.

December 2017 was the strongest month on record for iPlayer, with 327 million programme requests made, a 17% increase compared to the same month a year earlier. During December requests from connected TVs were up 34% year-on-year and mobile requests were up 19%.

The most popular show of 2017 was the first episode of natural history series Blue Planet II (pictured), with 4.8 million requests. This was followed by the opening episodes of new Tom Hardy period drama Taboo and Doctor Foster series two.

“Viewers are using BBC iPlayer more and more and in 2017 we made that experience better than ever,” said Dan McGolpin, controller of programming and daytime for the BBC. “BBC iPlayer now offers a broader range of relevant choices personalised for all and it will get better still over the coming year.”

The BBC said that last year was a period of “significant change” for BBC iPlayer, with boxsets playing an important role and series like Peter Kay’s Car Share, Motherland, and Top of the Lake: China Girl made available to watch in full after the first episode aired.

Other shows like Taboo, Apple Tree Yard, Blue Planet II and Doctor Who remained on BBC iPlayer throughout their run and were made available to watch as a box sets for 30 days after the final episode aired.

Over Christmas the BBC also made box sets and classic programmes available again on iPlayer so that people could watch them over the holidays. It said this contributed to the BBC iPlayer’s “best week ever in Christmas week”.

Head of BBC iPlayer, Dan Taylor-Watt, said that boxsets were “extremely popular” on the service in 2017, as were shows like the “visually spectacular” Blue Planet II.

“In 2018, we’ll be looking to build on these successes and continue to make BBC iPlayer a must-visit destination in its own right,” he said.

New personalisation features were rolled out on iPlayer during 2017, including the ability for viewers to pick up a programme where they left off across multiple devices, and personalised recommendations based on viewing habits. This came as the BBC made it a requirement for users to sign-in to the iPlayer to watch shows.

During the year the BBC also launched a new ‘From the Archive’ category on the service and experimented with higher picture quality by making the entire series of Blue Planet II available to watch in Ultra-High Definition and High Dynamic Range.