BBC will require all users to log in to iPlayer and some mobile apps from early 2017

The BBC has announced changes to its hugely popular iPlayer service, which will affect all users in the coming months. The announcement comes just a few weeks after the UK government closed a 'loophole' that allowed viewers to watch BBC content on iPlayer without paying for a television licence.

The first stage of the changes begin this week, with the rollout of a revised sign-in system for the BBC's website. Currently, logging into the BBC site is optional, but offers advantages such as being able to start watching a programme on one device, and continuing from where you paused it on another device. As part of this phase, users who log in will be required to add a postcode to their BBC ID account information.

According to BBC News, TV Licensing will have access to that data, but the BBC insists that it won't be used "for enforcement purposes", although it's not ruling that out for the future. A TV licence costs £145.50, and those who fail to pay for a licence when required to do so can face a criminal prosecution, along with a fine of up to £1,000.

From "early 2017", the Beeb will begin the second phase of its changes, requiring all users of BBC iPlayer, iPlayer Radio, and some BBC mobile apps to create a BBC ID account and log in to be able to use those services.

The BBC says that this move will provide considerable benefits for users, allowing it to offer a "more tailored experience". Over the summer, it says that "viewers received over 70 million personalised programme recommendations" as a result of logging in to iPlayer, and other services - such as BBC Music, BBC Bitesize and BBC+ mobile apps - offer similar personalisation advantages.

The changes will also help the BBC to make better choices over how it allocates production resources in the future. More data showing how its viewers and listeners access its content, and which shows they enjoy most or least, will provide greater insights to help inform those decisions - particularly useful given the budgetary constraints that the BBC has faced in recent years.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall described the move as "a real transformation - reinventing public service broadcasting for the digital age".

The BBC has also updated its privacy policy to accommodate the changes, promising that it will "only collect data needed to give audiences a better experience, improve its services and fulfil its responsibilities as a public service", adding that users will have the ability to manage or delete their BBC account at any time.

Source: BBC Media Centre

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