BBC trialling technology to let you watch iPlayer programmes together

The BBC’s Research & Development department has built a new tool that syncs iPlayer streams with multiple devices, allowing friends and family to watch BBC iPlayer programmes together, remotely.

BBC Together is a three month experiment launched by BBC R&D, as part of the BBC Taster initiative. The idea is, you visit the BBC Together website and paste in a link to an iPlayer episode to start a session. You’ll then be given a special link that you can share with friends and family to join your session. The host can then play, pause, fast forward or choose a different programme and your actions will sync up with everyone else. And it’s not just limited to iPlayer programmes. Any media on Sounds, Bitesize, or the BBC News and Sports websites can be synced with others too.

Dr Libby Miller, senior R&D producer at BBC R&D, says: “There may be physical distance between us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy great programmes with our friends, family, colleagues and classmates. We wanted to see if technology could bring people together to watch and listen to BBC shows remotely as a shared experience, which we’ve done with BBC Together. It’s important to say that it’s just a test at this stage – and we’ll be monitoring how well it works and thinking about how we could change it in the future, but we’re looking forward to seeing and hearing about the creative ways that people use it and getting their feedback on Taster.”

I live on my own, and watching online programmes with friends and syncing up our streams is something I’ve been doing for years. It usually involves a three-two-one countdown and pressing play at the same time, so having a system do this automatically, with the ability to pause everyone while you go for a toilet break is great. Netflix, take note.

BBC Together is available to test, rate and share on the Taster platform now.

About the author

Joel Kennedy

Editor of Zeenscreen. Passionate about TV. You can find me on Twitter @joeljkennedy

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