Can I get that on DVD?
We're always looking to find better ways to make the BBC's back-catalogue of programmes more discoverable by our audiences. Last month I wrote here about BBC Four's move into curating online themed collections of new and archive content, and their launch collection Army: A Very British Institution has proved to be popular, with over 1 million programme views to date.
But beyond our public service collections there's a large and growing mix of shows from BBC radio and television available to buy or access on a commercial basis - whether as physical products like CDs or Blu-rays or in digital-only formats - and we want to make it easy and intuitive for audiences to track down programmes that may no longer be offered via the BBC itself but are available elsewhere. A question many TV producers have heard from viewers is, "Can I get that on DVD?".
With that in mind, we're launching today a number of improvements to the BBC Online feature previously known as Buyer's Guide. If you've used this before, you'll know that it provides a link from selected programme pages on BBC Online to retailers who offer purchasable copies of the relevant programme.
So far this has been almost entirely restricted to audiobooks based on BBC Radio shows, but we're now extending it to include DVD and Blu-Ray editions of our TV programmes as well. As of today you should find links from selected TV programme pages to around 350 different products from a variety of retailers, and the range will grow steadily from now on. To begin with we're focussing on programmes that have recently been broadcast, but over time we'll include a wider selection of older programmes.
We're also changing the name to Commercial Availability: we think this describes more clearly what the feature is there to do. The look and feel has evolved too, to fit with the new overall design of BBC Online.
In Delivering Quality First we re-stated the BBC's determination to improve audiences' access to and engagement with our programmes - past, present and future - whether they're available on the BBC website or elsewhere, and today's changes represent another step in that direction. We hope you find them useful.
Roly Keating is Director of Archive Content and Executive Editor of BBC Online