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BBC iPlayer lags behind Netflix and Disney on experience watchdog says

todayDecember 14, 2022 11

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BBC iPlayer lags behind Netflix and Disney+ on experience, watchdog says

BBC iPlayer is lagging behind Netflix and Disney+ on user experience but beats its other rivals, a watchdog has said.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said the streaming giants have better picture and sound quality, recommend content easier and have more functional subtitling than the BBC.

However, the corporation leads in picture and sound quality over All 4 and ITV Hub, which has since been revamped as ITVX, according to the NAO’s A Digital BBC report.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said: “(The BBC’s) products are performing well compared to other, better-funded, media organisations.

“Stronger digital leadership structures in particular will enable the BBC to make the improvements it needs to its approach, if it is to maintain this success in a fast moving, global media market.”

NAO also said digital development has been “slower” and “less sophisticated” at the BBC as it has reduced its spend on digital products like BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds in recent years.

In 2019/20, it spent £109 million and in 2021/22 spent £98 million on products. Netflix spent £1.7 billion on technology and development in 2021.

In 2021/22, 25% of 16 to 34-year-olds watched iPlayer compared to Netflix on 55%, NAO said. The BBC also saw 81% of young people tune into its broadcast services on average per week.

The NAO report said users of BBC News Online had a similar experience to using other news outlets. While Spotify was way out ahead of BBC Sounds on personalisation and usability.

The corporation also has a high staff turnover and a shortage of employees in its digital department.

“Owing to the number of vacancies in the search team, for example, the BBC has been unable to develop its search function further,” the report adds.

“This is in part due to the BBC’s pay levels being lower than some other potential employers for technology professionals.”

In July, the corporation announced BBC Four and CBBC will end as linear TV channels as part of the broadcaster’s plans to become “digital-first”.

BBC World News and BBC News Channel will merge to create a single 24-hour TV news channel serving both UK and international audiences.

NAO said the corporation’s digital plan costing £500 million which includes an extra £50 million on product development “lacks detail” and needs developing.

Dame Meg Hillier, chair of the committee of public accounts said: “The proof will be in the pudding, and it has its work cut out.

“To guard against being left behind, (the BBC) needs to improve its governance and leadership of digital services.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “The NAO finds the BBC’s digital performance is impressive, with more people coming to iPlayer, Sounds and our online services than ever before, but there is more to do.

“We’re driving digital reforms across the organisation to provide people with the BBC content they want, in the ways they want it.

“We have a clear vision for a digital-led BBC which we will continue to deliver on and provide even greater value for all audiences.”

The BBC said it is investing in improvements in its digital products, having improved navigation, join-up and design across its platforms, products and services.

It has spent £7 million in this area over the past three years, as well as the increased investment the NAO points to, such as the additional £50 million a year in transforming the use of data, personalisation and user experience post-2025.

Published: 14/12/2022 by Radio NewsHub

Written by: NDR NEWS

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