BBC News app for Connected TV: update & Sony launch
BBC News App running on a Sony connected TV by the BBC Blue Room
In my role as Executive Product Manager for the BBC News app for connected TV I’m responsible for bringing the product to new platforms, to ensure availability for a broader audience.
Today I want to tell you about a new launch and share some details about the way the product has been used to date.
The BBC News product for connected TV was launched in June 2011 on the Samsung Smart TV platform for both UK and international audiences. Later that year, we partnered with Panasonic to launch the product on their VIERA Connect TV platform in the UK .
Today, the product launches on the Sony connected TV platform in the UK.
I’m delighted that we’ve been able to get the product – now developed from BBC Future Media’s Salford base – onto three sizeable platforms so quickly after launch; audience response has been fantastic, but first a quick recap of the product and its key features.
BBC News product for connected TV in focus
The BBC’s approach to digital development turns around the idea of products made available across four screens.
The BBC News product experience on the web is strong following a recent redesign, and the product has been optimised for Apple and Android handheld devices also.
When building an expression of the product for connected TV we had a rich BBC News interactive heritage to borrow from. Ceefax and more recently BBC Red Button have provided rolling access to breaking news and analysis for decades.
The product we arrived at – designed to complement the BBC’s live 24-hour news channel – built on this by providing a more immersive, web video-based experience which could be navigated via the remote control.
My editorial counterpart Steve Herrmann blogged about the around-the-clock editorial curation that underpins the product at launch. My Future Media colleague Rob Hardy blogged about the technical principles shortly after.
The BBC News product for connected TV has proved popular with users, many of whom are using it in a way that complements their usage of web and mobile.
- Peak usage: Visits to the product in the UK increase significantly at weekends, and in the evening between 8pm and 11pm. This is quite different to our website, where UK usage tends to peak in the middle of weekdays.
- Content: on average, users of the product engage with 6.2 ‘pages’ per day, which could be a video or a text story, but the vast majority (around 97%) are videos.
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Analysts predict there’ll be almost 36 million TVs with built-in internet capability installed in UK homes by the end of 2016*.
We’re responding by working with manufacturers to bring our product to their platforms as quickly as possible – versions delivered to date are in HTML though the product can be repurposed for a range of operating systems. (For example, we’ve recently announced plans to bring the service to Virgin Media’s TiVo boxes).
By working with standardised products we minimise complexity for the market and keep our re-versioning costs low.
In terms of the product itself, we’re looking at ways to improve the service.
Clearly there are opportunities for increased personalisation, for instance to deliver more localised news, remember users’ favourites etc.
Many of the learnings we’ve picked up via the launch and development of the product have informed proposals for a BBC connected TV experience for London 2012 – you can imagine a similarly structured product allowing users to navigate between the multiple live streams we’ll deliver via the remote control, in an experience enriched by the quality sports journalism of BBC Sport online.
The BBC’s sixth public purpose is to deliver the benefits of emerging technologies to the public, and the benefits of the coming together of broadcast and broadband are clear – new ways for audiences to enjoy content, enhanced availability of services and programmes, and opportunities for audiences to curate their own experiences.
The BBC’s connected TV products will continue to evolve to meet this need.
Aaron Scullion is Executive Product Manager, BBC Future Media
* Source: 3 Reasons Ltd, Spring 2011. This number projects sets technically capable of connection; numbers of actual connected sets will be lower, depending on broadband penetration, consumer behaviour etc.