The BBC offers viewers the most usable Video on Demand (VoD) / catch up TV website with its iPlayer service, while Sky’s Sky Player service fails to match other broadcasters in terms of usability, according to new findings released today.
The ‘Video on Demand: playing catch up’ report from user experience consultancy, Webcredible, revealed that BBC iPlayer is leading major UK broadcasters in the VoD usability stakes with a score of 88 per cent, followed by Scottish broadcaster STV with its STV Player coming in second with 76 per cent.
Sky Player on the other hand scored just 55 per cent, with admittedly a more complex commercialised offering, failing to clearly explain its different subscription packages to users on the site.
The report analysed the VoD / catch up TV services of six of the UK’s major broadcasters against 10 best practice usability guidelines.
The guidelines focused on site and homepage priorities, supporting key user tasks, engagement, and help and support.
Channel Five’s Demand Five service came third in the study, scoring 72 per cent, with Channel Four’s 4oD and ITV’s ITV player finishing fourth and fifth respectively with scores of 68 and 60 per cent.
The average usability score of 69.7 per cent for the VoD websites studied is very respectable when compared to other sectors.
However, while most of the sites fulfilled the basic criteria required for a VoD website, many lost marks for presenting key user tasks in unintuitive ways and for failing to ‘engage’ users effectively.
BBC iPlayer performed well across all guidelines, but both iPlayer and STV Player have a fairly straightforward business proposition where users can watch all programmes for free.
However, user engagement was where most sites dropped points, with ‘providing flexible viewing options’ and ‘engaging audiences with additional features’ finishing as the guidelines with the lowest average scores of three and 2.2 out of five, respectively.
“Despite the overall high scores, it’s surprising that the sites reviewed do not make more of an effort to engage their users, comments Trenton Moss, Director, Webcredible. “The functionality offered by many of the VoD sites is very similar so user engagement is an area where sites can really look to differentiate themselves. This lack of engagement is particularly important for broadcaster VoD to compete with sites like YouTube and new market players such as SeeSaw.”