We recently compared ITV's online video player to the BBC's iPlayer, finding that the ITV offering was far less usable than its rival.

ITV has since launched a new and improved version of its online TV service, so we've taken another look at it to see where the improvements have been made...


ITV homepage  

As previously, ITV promotes its video content effectively from the homepage, and viewers can go straight to the video player on the right and begin viewing.

Menu page

What is different now is that the catch up TV service, rather than being scattered across the site, has a dedicated page, which makes it far easier for users to find and watch the programme they want to:

ITV catch up TV page

From this page, users can select the programme they are looking for in a number of ways.

For soap fans, clear links to Coronation St and Emmerdale have been provided, while users can search by day, from an A-Z list, or choose from the top ten most viewed programmes.

ITV top 10 videos

This is what the BBC does with the iPlayer, and it makes it much easier to find what you are looking for. It also seems to load faster than the iPlayer homepage, which can be slow to navigate around at times.

Video player

I criticised this previously for the small size of the default video player and the difficulties involved in choosing a different screen size to view.

Before, selecting a detached player or the full screen version stopped the TV show you were watching, which was annoying. Now, the default screen size is a much better size:

ITV video player

In addition, you can now move to full screen without having to start the programme from the beginning, which is a big improvement.

There are still some problems though; when you select the full screen option you lose the onscreen menu, even when you roll the cursor over the bottom of the screen. This means that, to rewind the programme you have to exit the full screen option.


The first time I looked at ITV's video player, the advertising content spoiled the experience, with two to three minutes of advertising per 30 minute programme.

This has now changed, and users need to watch a 25 second pre-roll ad before the video starts, and another of the same length in the middle. This is much more tolerable, and better than watching the same programme on TV.

That said, we still feel that 15 second spots are about as much as the average internet user will tolerate. ITV should keep a close eye on its abandonment rate.


While the iPlayer still has the edge in terms of usability, ITV has made some significant improvements to the usability of its catch up service.

According to figures from January, 2m clips and TV programmes were viewed on ITV.com, compared with 11m for the iPlayer. The new changes should help ITV close the gap.

Related stories:
Dave and Goliath - the battle for TV audiences
BBC opens up iPlayer 

Graham Charlton

Published 13 May, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (8)

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Andrew Nesbitt

Andrew Nesbitt, Developer at Forward Internet Group

Their are still a number of basic accessibility problems with it, it requires microsoft silverlight to be installed and the player refuses to work on a mac at all.

over 10 years ago



A big improvement. I'm on an intel Mac and the site's playing OK for me. The streaming quality is not as good as the Beeb's iPlayer , nor does it fill the screen fully but it's a good step in the right direction as streaming enabled a greater take-up for the iPlayer (even with those that could use the download service) and so it's commendable that ITV have taken that on board.

over 10 years ago



Navigation is much improved. It could do with the ability to rewind/fast forward within each segment.

over 10 years ago


Trevor Lewis

The ability to download the BBC Iplayer content and effectively watch it offline in my experience provides a much better viewing experience than with ITV where even though I am on a fast ADSL rated at 8Mbps (consistently >4MBps) I suffer from picture breakup and freezing indicative of not enough buffering capability. I am unable to increase the buffering to more than 60 seconds.

A player that enabled download and offline viewing would be much better.

about 10 years ago


maureen Benson

Can anyone tell me how to get the itv catchup on an iMac.
Nothing happens with mine and itv themselves don't seem to know!!!!!!!

about 10 years ago



Channel 4 is the best with 4OD 4 On Demand. The player can be viewed in different sizes with full screen. All the content for 30 days is easy to understand and search for, well categorised. Also there is only a couple of adverts at the begining of the show. ITV is shocking, you can't even rewind or fast forward the show, which becomes a real frustration. With channel 4 you can fastforward or rewind to the exact spot you want to watch. It's just a shame Channel 4's content isn't as good as BBC and ITV.


about 10 years ago



I like: Programs are easy to find. The player is simple to use.
I dont like: Picture kept freezing and stoping to buffer content even though I was getting 4mbps at the time.
It would be much better if you could download the show first.

almost 10 years ago



It doesn't let you download the item for off-line use, which the BBC does. Very, very useful if a traveller or if your internet is slow. The second point is very important for me because my line is so slooow. And until that is done ITV's player isn't any good to me.

over 6 years ago

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