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BBC iPlayer on Sky gets its first upgrade with Red Button launcher

The BBC iPlayer on Sky+HD has been given its first upgrade with direct launch from the red button, a new home screen and iPlayer exclusives.

The update brings the Sky On Demand version closer to the ‘new’ iPlayer, launched earlier this year, which is now standard on computers, tablets and connected TVs.

It’s the first update since the iPlayer joined Sky’s catch-up service 18 months ago, and features new features section headings including Channel, Category, Most Popular and Collections.

BBC iPlayer on Sky gets its first upgrade with Red Button launcher
The Sky+HD iPlayer has a new home screen

Marcus Parnwell, executive product manager for BBC iPlayer on TV, blogged: “I am pleased that we have been able to work with Sky to make some significant improvements to BBC iPlayer on the Sky+HD platform.

“These [Collections] have been very successful in the new versions of BBC iPlayer so it is a natural fit for us to enable them on Sky+HD as well.”

Parnwell also said he hopes to announce progress soon on discussions to include iPlayer listings in the Sky+ app so users can order downloads remotely or start playback from their smartphone or tablet.

BBC iPlayer can now be launched directly from any BBC channel using the Red Button menu, instead of going through the Sky On Demand menus.

There is also an All section that provides an A-Z listing of programmes available from BBC iPlayer, where users can enter the first letter of a programme to skip through the listing quickly.

The new interface also allows iPlayer to increase the number of collections available in a dedicated area, which will be regularly updated.

Online exclusives and premieres, such as Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Glastonbury coverage, will also be coming to the iPlayer platform on Sky in the coming months.

Parnwell admitted there are a couple of flaws to fix, such as SD and HD episodes of the same programme displaying alongside each other and wasting space on screen, which they hope to solve in the next few months.

The Red Button launch function also works only from standard-definition channels, but Parnwell said they’re hoping for a quick fix.

The news comes a few days after the BBC announced that it was making the new iPlayer interface the default experience on computers, after two months on trial where viewers could choose to use the new and old versions.

The new version has a more consistent experience across PC, tablet, mobile and TV devices, but the final version has been fine-tuned with more sorting options, and plans to improve filtering within the programme categories.

Dan Taylor, head of BBC iPlayer at BBC Future Media, blogged: “One of the key goals of the new iPlayer was to help users discover something new to watch. Happily, the feedback suggests the new iPlayer is succeeding in aiding programme discovery.”

The next few weeks will see the new iPlayer for TV become the default interface, followed by updates to the Android and iOS apps.

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