STV Player - Free, when you are
|Developer(s)||STV Group plc|
|Initial release||July 2009|
|Operating system||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|Platform||Online, PS3, YouView, Windows Phone 8|
|Type||Television catch-up / archive / live broadcast|
The STV Player is an online video on demand service accessible through the main STV website as well as being available on a variety of smartphones, tablets, consoles, set top boxes and Smart TVs. Current programmes are available for 30 days after transmission on the main STV channel, with archive programming available longer-term. The service was established to hold full programming and "long-form" content, separate from the existing STV Video site, which would then be rebuilt to hold "short-form" content, news, weather and clips.
Most STV primetime, and some daytime, shows are available on the website; however, some sports, movies, imported programming and network programmes with copyright issues do not.
STV launched the STV Player channel on YouTube on 20 August 2010, with six categories: Documentaries, Drama, Entertainment and Comedy, News, People and Scotland.
On 5 August 2014 STV player failed during the coverage of the Scotland Decides debate ahead of the Scottish Independence vote. The live stream was the chosen method for viewers outside Scotland to watch the debate and many on Twitter expressed their frustration that seemingly the high volume of demand was not anticipated. Others on Twitter suggested that STV had an embarrassing evening.
The BBC news website reported that the BBC had offered to carry the internet live stream across the UK (on their stable and proven network); "A total of 186,267 tweets were sent overall throughout the show on STV. A number of people expressed frustration at technical problems that interrupted the broadcaster's live online streaming of the event."
The BBC had asked for permission to stream the debate live online and use it on other platforms, but the request was declined by STV.
The STV Player is intended to combine network programming shown by STV, such as Emmerdale, Coronation Street and The Jeremy Kyle Show, plus regional programming, such as Made in Scotland, Scotland Tonight and STV Rugby, and archive STV programming, like The Steamie and High Times, in a separate site from other, "short-form" videos.
In general, programmes are available in their entirety, but in some cases, STV does not have the right to broadcast all the content online; in these instances, the segments of the show which are not subject to these rights issues are loaded onto STV Player, with the un-cleared segments excluded.
Since its launch in July 2009, the STV Player has been heavily marketed on STV.
In 2010, an independent usability study of Video on Demand websites described STV's online catch-up service, STV Player, as the best in the UK, outside the heavily resourced BBC iPlayer.
Based on 10 different usability criteria, STV scored 76% in usability stakes, making it the highest scoring commercial player. STV Player was second only to BBC iPlayer, which scored 88%.
The research was conducted by user experience consultancy Webcredible, who evaluated each website against 10 best practice guidelines across four categories; site & homepage priorities; site support key user tasks; engagement; and help & support. The 10 criteria included ease to search for a specific programme; ease to play a selected programme; flexible viewing options provided; and ease to find information and parental control options.
STV Player scored full marks for having a clear section on its homepage which explains to site visitors what STV Player is and how to use it. STV Player also achieved top marks for acknowledging the importance of a "help" section by providing a prominent link to it within its main navigation.
The website uses Brightcove Flash technology, similar to those used by the services provided by the BBC and Channel 4. It is available on various operating systems, including Windows, Mac and Linux, and multiple internet browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, AOL and Safari.
An application for devices running Google's Android operating system was released on 9 September 2011. The app requires Android 2.2 (Froyo) or higher. Each show is broken up to feature non-skippable advert breaks. Users are forced to enter their postcode to use the app in order to allow STV to ensure you are licensed to watch the programs.
An application for Apple's iOS (iOS 4.3 or later) operating system and either the iPad (1st generation or later), iPhone (3GS or later) and iPod Touch (3rd generation or later), was launched on 22 December 2011.
STV Player has been released on the Kindle Fire.
In April 2013 STV Player was released as a Windows 8 "Metro" app.
STV Player has been released on the Windows Phone.
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