No ticket? No problem

Designing the best ever live experience on BBC iPlayer

No ticket? No problem.

Designing the best ever live experience on BBC iPlayer

No ticket? No problem.

Designing the best ever live experience on BBC iPlayer

—— 00. THE CONTEXT

No one covers live coverage quite like the BBC. Our aim for this project was to incrementally improve the experience of watching live events in iPlayer, beating any other means of watching by the 2022 Winter of Sport. Showcasing live content in iPlayer is key to shifting the audiences perception of iPlayer.

My role within this project was to support the research, ideation prototyping and build for the TV platform. Throughout, I worked as part of a large multi-disciplinary and cross-location team. I collaborated with designers, developers, product and editorial.

—— 00. THE CONTEXT

No one covers live coverage quite like the BBC. Our aim for this project was to incrementally improve the experience of watching live events in iPlayer, beating any other means of watching by the 2022 Winter of Sport. Showcasing live content in iPlayer is key to shifting the audiences perception of iPlayer.

My role within this project was to support the research, ideation and build for the TV platform. Throughout, I worked as part of a large multi-disciplinary and cross-location team. I collaborated with designers, developers, product and editorial.

Kick-off: Spring 2019
Duration: 44 days

UXUK-Awards-Logo-2019_Winner-black-1

—— 01. THE BRIEF

Make iPlayer the next best thing to being at the world’s biggest music and sporting events.

BBC iPlayer is sometimes seen as a secondary choice and catch-up service when watching live events. To keep up with competitors our online offering should be on par, if not better than, watching on TV. Therefore, we needed to offer our audience the next best thing to being there – by delivering an engaging multi platform experience of Glastonbury & Wimbledon. 

glasto-whiteout-logo
wimbledon-whiteout-logo

What better opportunity to show our audience that we’re not just a catch up service than to provide one of the best cross platform user experiences for live content in the market? From the Olympics to the Royal Wedding, the BBC is renowned for best in show coverage of Live events. Events which attract tens of millions of people to tune in and gather round. Our live coverage has won awards from the Royal Television Society and BAFTA.


Live sport & music present a unique opportunity to engage younger audiences with iPlayer, and Glastonbury & Wimbledon are some of the biggest events in the world. 

They also present the opportunity for the BBC to concentrate its marketing messaging on iPlayer as the single best place to watch these events, but only if we can create an experience that lives up to that promise.

It is time-limited opportunity to shift perceptions of iPlayer with audiences and with the wider BBC. It also allows us to progress our live product experience ahead of 2020, which is set to be an even bigger year for live events on iPlayer.  

sprint

An image showing one of two design sprint sessions during the project

 

In January 2019, together as designers, researchers and product teams, we focused our efforts on understanding what makes a great live experience. We then needed to implement a solution which provided an easy route to the consumption of this content.

The UX team working on the live experience faced a number of challenges:

  • How can we integrate live content into a platform whose foundations are VOD content?
  • How can we showcase the breadth of content at Wimbledon and Glastonbury, without overwhelming audiences?
  • How might we design a template which flexes for different types of live content, such as festivals, tournaments and royal weddings?
  • How might we interest users who have come for something in particular?

—— 02. THE DELIVERABLE

A dynamic cross-platform, multi-stream experience which allows for seamless switching between the most important moments at your favourite event.

glastonbury-tv

Across all platforms, we designed a new homepage takeover that can adapt to editorial priorities and news events. It showcases our finest live content in a way that audiences can easily discover. We know that pop music and tennis isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so we’ve catered for those who want to jump straight into their favourite box set too. We’ve tested our new designs with over 40 users over the course of the project which has helped us develop these new features to help users get the best experience.

wimbledon-event-page

Users have fed back in the past that it can be difficult to find the content they want during multi-stream events, so we have made it easier than ever to navigate and browse. An event page lists all the content, live or video-on demand, in one easy and convenient place. This content is seperated into editorially curated categories that make sense to the user, such as days for Wimbledon.

A screen recording showing the improved end-to-end experience on TV

We’ve also made it easier to switch streams during playback on TV which is our largest platform for audiences. During discovery this came out as a key user need during multi-stream live events that audiences expect to see from the BBC.  Pressing red to switch stages/courts on linear TV is a well-loved feature that sets us apart from our growing number of competitors. Audiences can now stream-skip to their heart’s content using iPlayer on TV.

—— 03. THE PROCESS

Six iPlayer product teams who have never worked together before joined forces and have delivered more than we imagined.

In order to gain insight into what makes a great live experience for 16-35s and how live content is being consumed, we built an understanding by:

  • Interviewing the 16-35 audience
  • Conducting stakeholder interviews
  • Running workshops with marketing teams

The project now had a solid foundation for the next phase.  This allowed us to adopt a flexible and innovative approach to traditional processes - the key to our success.


A 'double decker' design sprint

The discovery and playback experiences were split into their own sprints. It was important to have agreement from stakeholders - where a typical design sprint has 7 participants, we needed to involve over 30 people from across the business to know how this content would be curated, edited and distributed.

sprint1

So we tweaked the design sprint format. By running parallel discovery phases, we could include as many key people in ideation as possible, leading to far greater buy-in overall, and heaps of great ideas from across the business.

sprint2

The result from the sprints yielded a new homepage experience and an improved playback experience for TV. From the sprints, as cross-platform teams, we then worked closely with each other to develop these ideas and to test them with users.

Images of early lo-fi wireframes exploring a homepage promo across platform, produced during the first design sprint

Accessing the audience

We actively sought out the audience when testing the sprint outcomes. We snuck into various community tennis clubs around Manchester to guerrilla test initial ideas with tennis fans. We also lab tested prototypes to iteratively test them across all platforms to iron out any usability issues and help us deliver a consistent experience for all platforms.

tennis-club

Guerrilla testing at the local tennis club

labsession

Usability testing within the BBC lab

matrix

A screenshot of a behaviour analysis matrix from a usability testing session

Prototyping & delivery

To test the new homepage experience on all types of screens, we had to flex our prototyping muscles. We used paper prototypes, Axure for web, Proto.io for mobile and TV as well as coded prototypes. Being flexible with the design tools allowed us to move quickly and keep it lean. Working closely with Product colleagues enabled us to ensure that any changes to the experience were included in the final outcome, crucial for providing a great user experience.

protoio-screenshot

A screenshot showing how Proto.io was used to create TV prototypes through screen states

A video showing the results of a hi-fi prototype made in Proto.io, which was used to test in lab sessions using a Flirc to mimic a TV remote

Managing expectations

To manage expectations and to ensure that we were delivering the right stuff in the tight timeframe we had, design deliverables were categorised into bronze, silver and gold for each platform. Bronze was the must-have base experience, whereas gold captured our ideal experience. The developers could then build the bronze features as a priority, and then work towards gold depending on how much time was available.

—— 04. THE OUTCOME

“Why would you want to spend £300 on a ticket when you can watch it on iPlayer?” 

We aimed to offer users the next best thing to being at these events. We would know this was a success through users’ qualitative feedback, as well as seeing increases in live viewing of Glastonbury and Wimbledon content. 

event-stats.013

Glastonbury:

  • 13.4m requests over three days of Glastonbury - 9m of those for live content
  • An increase of 47% on webcast consumption from the previous Glastonbury in 2017 
  • Glastonbury 2019 set the record for the most webcasts ever

Wimbledon:

  • 93% of content viewed live- the most streamed Wimbledon ever 
  • 28m requests to Wimbledon content
  • 1.79m men’s final requests, surpassing 2018 (1.73m)

Social monitoring

During these events, we monitored social media for user feedback to help give an overall feel for success. We saw evidence of users sharing their delight of experiencing watching the events on iPlayer. 

social-feedback

An image showing positive mentions of iPlayer and Glastonbury on Twitter

Ethnographic study 

We analysed over 400 entries and 500 minutes of interviews in a diary study during Glastonbury & Wimbledon. Our audience fed back that the best way to follow was on iPlayer, finding live and VOD content easy to access from the homepage. They also engaged with the various collections on the Glastonbury & Wimbledon pages, making it an immersive experience at home.
 

"Everything is just there, just at a click of a button you don't have to pick and choose, it's so easy"


Moving forward

We had designed a dynamic cross-platform, multi-stream experience that allowed for seamless switching between the most important moments of a live event. Our changes resulted in record breaking live stream numbers for Glastonbury & Wimbledon in iPlayer. The experience was immediately adopted for other events, such as the Women's World Cup. All of the feedback gathered helped us identify opportunity areas to improve the experience for next year’s events, including the Tokyo Olympics.

 

Screenshot 2020-04-12 at 12.28.01

The homepage promo component has been used to support other live events since Wimbledon and Glastonbury

Award winning

The project won two awards at the UKUX Awards in 2019 for Best Entertainment & Leisure Experience and Best User Experience for 2019. Here's what the judges had to say:

"With an increase of 47% on webcast consumption from the previous year’s Glastonbury and for Wimbledon, 93% of content viewed live, the most for any Wimbledon event, the team’s research and design work really paid off in developing a truly user centred service which had a remarkable impact. Congratulations to the team."

"From an interface point of view, it was beautifully done, it has evolved simplistically and it’s very intuitive, you’re not made to feel like it’s something new to iPlayer."

Images from the 2019 UXUK Awards in London

Challenges & reflection

  • I was thrown into the deep end. I was new to iPlayer, and this project saw me collaborating with multiple stakeholders and departments across the business, many of whom I didn't know and hadn't worked with before.
  • Time was of the essence. With only 44 days, I had to move quickly. I had to learn new software on the fly and press to get decisions made in a timely manner.
  • I had to fight for certain design decisions throughout and communicate the value of undertaking certain pieces of work to senior stakeholders.

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© Jake Cohen 2021. All rights reserved.

© Jake Cohen 2019. All rights reserved.

© Jake Cohen 2019.
All rights reserved.

© Jake Cohen 2019. All rights reserved.


© Jake Cohen 2021.
All rights reserved.