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…

Homepage


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.

Advertising

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.

Conclusion

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