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New BBC iPlayer offers social features

Share your favourite programmes on Twitter and Facebook

The BBC has unveiled a new beta version of its catch-up TV service, iPlayer.

"In two-and-half years BBC iPlayer has evolved to become one of our most popular websites, integral to BBC Online, and available on a wide range of internet-connected devices," said BBC director of future media and technology, Erik Huggers.

"The launch of this version of the BBC iPlayer is part of our strategy to do fewer things even better and make it more simple, personal and connected.

The new-look iPlayer features an interface which is "simplified" and makes "content even easier to find", according to the BBC.

The BBC has also joined forces with Twitter and Facebook to ensure users can directly share and recommend content to friends without having to leave iPlayer.

"By integrating Facebook within BBC iPlayer, the BBC is enabling people to share their favourite content and discover the content their friends are recommending and watching," said Facebook's Vice President for EMEA Joanna Shields.

The BBC revealed it was working with other web companies in a bid to establish further similar partnerships.

The new BBC iPlayer will also offer the ability to log in to Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger service and chat to other web users while watching content on the service.

The BBC said this feature would be made available during the summer and if its proves successful it will be extended to include other instant messaging programs.

iPlayer users will also be provided with links to shows available on other Video on demand services such as SeeSaw, ITV Player and 4oD.

"As we focus on what public service means in a digital age, we are working to set clear boundaries for BBC Online. We don't want to build a social network, microblogging or instant messaging service," said Huggers

"But through a greater emphasis on strategic partnerships, we can harness the benefits of the web to enrich the audience's interaction with our content and support other content providers. The new BBC iPlayer reflects public service broadcasting in the digital era."

The full version of the BBC iPlayer 3 is expected to be rolled out in July.

See also: BBC iPlayer hits 120m downloads per month

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