A Page For Every Programme
Programme support. It used to be so easy. If you wanted to know when a show was on, you reached for the Radio Times. If you wanted to follow it up afterwards, you sent in a stamped, self-addressed envelope. If you missed it... well... you missed it. Since the earliest days of bbc.co.uk, the BBC has responded to the new worlds of on-demand and interactivity by producing thousands of lovingly crafted programme-related sites offering anything from listings, games, clips and educational information to Listen Again, the iPlayer and full live Test The Nation-style interactivity.
These sites serve all sorts of different needs, but are not always serving the best interests of the user - a point eloquently made on Dadblog a while back. And while our programme offering was vast, it was neither comprehensive nor was it permanent. Try searching the web for information about BBC Two's The Verdict (which had a substantial web presence when broadcast) and all you will find is this press release.
A key plank of Tom Loosemore's bbc.co.uk 2.0 strategy was to ensure a base level of consistency, quality and permanence for all BBC programmes online. A single URL for every episode of every programme made for the BBC... forever. At the same time, we wanted to explore how to automate some of the process, capturing the metadata naturally produced in the production process and publish it dynamically so that users could find out the status of the programme at any point in its lifecycle. So /programmes was born.
As Tom Scott revealed, it launched last month in beta and you can expect significant changes in the coming months as we roll out new features and functionality. And as Martin Belam points out, it may be long overdue - but thanks to the talented technology team in Audio&Music Interactive, we have now made that crucial first step in a new direction...
Sophie Walpole is workstream leader for Automated Programme Support.