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BBC iPlayer Users Required to Sign Up to a Personal Account by 2017

Broadcaster’s Tony Hall said BBC is ‘reinventing public service broadcasting for the digital age’

matt leblanc Top Gear.
Beretta/Sims/REX/Shutterstock

LONDON  The BBC will require users of BBC iPlayer, its VOD service, to log-in via a personal account from the beginning of next year. The move is part of the U.K. pubcaster’s next phase of plans to reinvent its public service broadcast offering using data.

In an announcement Tuesday, the BBC said a more personalized experience, tailored to all viewers and listeners across content, products and services, would help its users find more of the programming they liked while allowed the broadcaster to be better informed and make decisions around future programming and services for everyone.

“I want everyone to get the very best from the BBC. By learning about what you want and like we can take you to more of the great programs you love, stories you might be interested in and content you might otherwise never have discovered,” said Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC.

“This is a real transformation -reinventing public service broadcasting for the digital age. Millions of people are already benefitting from this more personalised BBC, and by rolling it out for everyone no one will be left behind.”

The BBC claims that more than seven million people have registered for a BBC account since 2015 in order to benefit from more personalized experiences, promoting the latest announcements in its plans. As a first step the company will roll-out a more secure sign-in system this week.

The next step will see all users of BBC iPlayer, including BBC iPlayer Radio and some of its mobile apps, asked to sign in to use it from early 2017. This will require users to create an online BBC ID account which will include adding their postcode. It is not currently necessary to have a BBC ID to access iPlayer.

The news follows the BBC’s recent move requiring anyone using iPlayer to have a U.K. television licence, which came into effect at the beginning of September. Previously users were only required to have a television licence if they chose to access live broadcasts. However, the corporation is currently unable to police the requirement with users simply asked to tick a box stating whether or not they have a licence, which cost £145.50 ($188.60) per year.

Live viewing on iPlayer grew to 11% of all television requests in June, the highest level in two years, according to BBC figures. The VOD platform saw a total of 290 million requests across television and radio in June, up 6% on the previous month and 39 million more than seen in June 2015. Television requests accounted for 229 million, the best performance for June since the platforms’ launch. Average weekly unique browser figures were at 19.9 million for June, the highest on record.

June figures were in part boosted by the UEFA Euro 2016 soccer event. The most viewed program in June was “Match of the Day”’s live coverage of the Euro 2016 contest between England and Wales with 2.84 million requests. This was followed by the second episode of season 23 of “Top Gear,” featuring new presenters Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc, with 1.43 million requests. The opening episode of “Top Gear”’s new-look season had been the most requested show in May with 1.44 million requests.

As part of its plans, the BBC has updated its privacy policy which is based on three promises of transparency, choice and trust. The BBC says it will only collect data required to provide a better experience to audiences and to improve its services and fulfil its responsibilities as a pubcaster; users will be able to manage or delete the account at any time; and the corporation will never sell personal details. However, should users delete their account they won’t be able to access BBC iPlayer from 2017.