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BBC iPlayer gets biggest upgrade in years, this is what’s new on your TV today

BBC iPlayer has been overhauled from the ground up, with the new design rolling out your TV from today. The refresh is part of a major rebrand taking place across the BBC after research showed most viewers believed its look was “old fashioned” compared to flashier American streaming services. Unsurprisingly, the new iPlayer design takes a leaf from Netflix’s playbook, with the Beeb relocating the menu to the left-hand side of the screen in a new vertically-stacked list. 

Pressing the left arrow on your remote (or swiping, depending on what model of set-top box you’re using) will let you quickly browse through categories, like comedy, drama, or sport. The BBC has also shrunk the size of the menu to make more room for the content on-screen. With the new design, BBC iPlayer has more breathing room to display high-resolution artwork for its latest shows and movies.

It also means “viewers are more likely to spot something new to watch,” the Beeb adds.

The company is keen to stress that its new menu design isn’t only about beautifying the interface, it’s also designed to improve usability. In a blog post about the changes, the broadcaster said: “it’s important to us that any changes we make to iPlayer work for everyone, so our new menu has been usability tested with adults, children, and people with accessibility needs to ensure people can continue to find and explore our many programme genres and channels with ease.”

The new look is available on Smart TVs, Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast with Google TV, Sky Q and other versions of the BBC iPlayer app designed to watch on the big screen. If the changes haven’t appeared on your version of BBC iPlayer yet, you can force the app to adopt the shiny new design by heading to the Settings menu within iPlayer, then selecting “switch to iPlayer beta”.

The facelift on your TV is only the first step in a wider redesign for iPlayer, so expect similar changes to roll out to the iPhone, iPad, Android, and other versions of the video on-demand service in the coming weeks and months. This should ensure consistency across the various versions of BBC iPlayer, which is also available in your web browser.

Ahead of the reveal of its all-new user interface, BBC revealed a minimalist new logo for iPlayer. The new look, which is comprised solely of simple graphic shapes, is shared across a wide range of services, including BBC Sounds, BBC News, BBC Weather, BBC Sport and BBC Bitesize. All of these use three differently-configured blocks in various colour combinations.

For iPlayer, that colour will be a graduated shade of pink. The shapes are configured into a triangular ‘Play’ symbol. The redesign also implements the new BBC-owned font Reith, named after the BBC’s founder John Reith. This same font will be used across all of the new designs, including the main BBC logo, BBC One, and others.

The redesign comes after the Beeb reported record-breaking viewing figures for its iPlayer app. BBC iPlayer streaming has increased by 20 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the latest data. Some 1.5 billion streams were recorded in the last financial quarter, up 20 percent compared to the same period last year and an astonishing 49 percent compared with 2019. As such, this makes it the biggest ever third-quarter for BBC iPlayer in history.

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