UPDATE 10/13/11. The new COVE video player was released early this morning. You’ll notice the new look is reflected across the national and local video portals, the partner player and all new instances of the viral player. Details about the release and its improvements can be found below. Enjoy! 

We are excited to announce the impending release of a new video player design for COVE. The PBSi Products team estimates that they will be able to roll this player out to production some time early next week; likely on Tuesday (10/11/11).

This new player will have a significantly improved user interface that we think will help further achieve our collective goals around video viewing.

The Big Differences

The biggest difference will be the removal of the top control bar (with “Embed”, “Share”, “Email” and “Buy It” buttons). The “Email” and “Buy It” buttons will move into the main control bar at the bottom and the “Buy” button will be changed to a DVD icon.

Before

After

The “Share” button will be removed completely and with it the Share screen you see below.

In its place we have added a Facebook and Twitter button to the main controls. Users will be able to share videos through those services much more easily with just a single click.

We have also improved the paused state of the player. Currently if a user pauses a video on a producer site the player controls will eventually disappear. This leaves the player looking like just an image on the page.

In the new player when a user pauses a video, this is what they see.

And that interface remains until the user un-pauses the video or navigates away from the page.

Improvements to Mid-roll/Pre-roll

Another big improve has been the addition of markers where mid-roll sponsorship messaging will play in the video.  These appear as white dots in the timeline. (circled in red below)
The addition of these markers is part of our continuing commitment to improve the mid-roll experience. They should give our users a much better sense for when and how often mid-roll will play.
This new player will also make it so users cannot skip mid-roll. In the current player a user can just scrub past a mid-roll point. This will not be possible in the new player. In the new player when a user scrubs past a mid-roll point the video will pause and play the nearest mid-roll sponsorship video. After that the user will be able to scrub anywhere in the timeline and not see any further mid-roll.

The pre-roll experience will also be improved. Currently if a user clicks in the video window when pre-roll is playing a new tab will open to the funder’s website. In the new player though instead of pausing, the pre-roll and then video will continue to play.

Additional Changes

The new player will also feature the following improvements:

  • The timeline will feature an improved chapter interface that doesn't overlap with the scrubber bar in fullscreen mode and displays markers that give the user a better sense of where chapters are. For text the new pop-up window will display the chapter title only. (see screenshot below) 
  • Hitting the spacebar will now pause and un-pause a video.
  • A much smoother scrubbing action in the timeline that shows the user what timecode and chapter they’re scrubbing to.
  • Instead of having to click to open the volume control button it will just appear on cursor roll-over.
  • The fullscreen button will display the text “Fullscreen” when the cursor rolls over it. This will also be the case for the “Email”, “Embed” and “Buy It” (DVD icon) buttons.
  • An improved error message that appears when a video fails. Previously the message users saw just told them that the video was “unavailable”. Now if a video fails the user gets a message that tells them to try again soon (see below). This will hopefully prompt our users to access the video later.  

Improvements specific to the Viral Player

The COVE Viral Player will retain the “Share”, “Details”, “Buy” and “Email” buttons it currently in its header. (circled in red below)

Only the bottom control panel will change for that player and it will not feature the new Facebook, Twitter, Email and DVD buttons.

If a user clicks on the “Share” button in the Viral Player a screen will appear featuring the Facebook, Twitter and Email buttons. 

Launch

We are working through the final details now and anticipate that this player will launch some time next week. It is likely the roll-out will occur early Tuesday morning, October 11, 2011.

An update will be added to this blog post on the day the new player goes live.

When the new interface goes live all of the players in the COVE-powered portals (national and local) as well as all the COVE-powered Partner Players on your producer websites will update.

Because they are outside the PBS.org ecosystem though existing Viral Player instances will not update. All new instances of the Viral Player that are embedded after the launch will get the new player.

We are excited to bring our users this update. We think it will be a significant improvement over the current experience and will help us achieve our shared goals for video traffic on PBS.org.

Please feel free to post your questions in the comments section below or send them to Dan Haggerty at ddhaggerty@pbs.org.

We look forward to a great launch!