ITV has been busy promoting its newly rebranded video player lately, as it attempts to improve take up of its online catch up service.

While video views on ITV.com have risen over the past year, it still lags behind the iPlayer. It has updated again though, and now the ITV Player looks more of a match for the BBC’s online video offering.

I’ve criticised the ITV online video offering in the past as it has failed to match the BBC in terms of usability; it previously lacked a dedicated homepage which made finding content hard work, while the small size of the video player was not well suited to viewing full TV programmes.

Both these things have been improved: a menu page was added a few months ago, which means users can search for programmes through an A to Z menu, by most popular, and a drop down menu featuring all content:

More importantly, the video player screen, which now uses Microsoft’s Silverlight technology, has been enlarged. Though still not as big as the iPlayer’s video, it is almost twice the size of the previous version, much better for viewing programming online. The picture quality on the full screen option has been improved as well, but it is still far from perfect.

ITV Player now has a couple of advantages over the iPlayer: it is not restricted by the same conditions as the BBC, so it can offer a 30 day catch up service, while much iPlayer content is available for only seven days after broadcast, unless you download it. This means viewers can get a whole month’s worth of content on ITV.com.

Also, now that ITV has the rights to broadcast the FA Cup, it can offer football highlights online, something the BBC is unable to do with Match of the Day:

The iPlayer is still the one to beat in terms of usability, but ITV has a good range of video content on its site, and has now made it much more accessible for users.