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BBC News app for Connected TV: update & Sony launch

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Aaron Scullion | 11:00 UK time, Friday, 6 January 2012

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.

Sony launch

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.

Please continue to tell us what you think via comments under this blog.

Next steps

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.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    will this be available on the youview boxes when they launch?

  • Comment number 2.

    Unbelievable that Sony aren't making this available on the 2010 Bravia models. Less than a year old and the TV is essentially becoming obsolete. Suffice to say I won't be purchasing a Sony TV again.

    Is there any chance the BBC can put some pressure on Sony to include this in all their IPTV ranges? The iPlayer is already on there (albeit with no HD option, again strange for a TV with Freeview HD built in).

    Wonder how many other IPTVs will become surplus to requirements once YouView eventually gets off the ground.

  • Comment number 3.

    Extremely disappointed that this isn't on my 2010 Bravia. Sony seem to be forgetting about their buyers from just 18 months ago. Do the BBC know if the app will also come to the 2010 models as it says in the blog you can adapt to not use HTML (which I'm sure the 2010 Bravia models don't have compatibility with)

  • Comment number 4.

    Further annoyance about the Sony Bravia 2010 series models not getting this. It's clear that little to no care about immediate obsolescence was made when these models all proudly displaying the Freeview HD logo were released.

    This is the third such issue they've been crippled by.

  • Comment number 5.

    Have to agree with other commenters so far, it is pointless buying these smart TVs if only the latest generation ever recieves any new content/apps. TVs from the 2010 range should not be considered obsolete already!

  • Comment number 6.

    I have to agree.
    I bought Sony Bravia 2010 in Autumn of '11, unknown to me it was already long obsolete when I paid for it. Sony having quietly abandoned the Bravia 2010 platform and moved on. You have to think the same will happen with each evolution and not rely on Sony doing any work to progress current or older platforms. They appear to have lost interest in retaining loyal customers.

    Bravia 2010 are still on sale so beware, Sony are not the safe choice they used to be for tv.

    Do your research while your money is still in your hands, check the features you want are working to your satisfaction when demonstrated and assume nothing more. For a learning exercise, research what happened with Bravia 2010 before you go shopping.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm very pleased that the BBC continues to invest in future mediums. However, like other commentators, I'm concerned that Sony abandons it's older systems so quickly. I frequently use iPlayer on a Sony BDP-S370 Blu Ray player, and it's great. Will the new app be available for that?

  • Comment number 8.

    Sony deserted the 2010 model Bravias practically after their release. This is not the type of treatment you associate with a supposedly quality manufacturer. They continue to fall behind the competition in terms of user support.

  • Comment number 9.

    This technology, like technology a hundred times before it, will undoubtedly become defunct no soon as it has found itself in millions of homes. Why don't we all as consumers learn that all technology could have been packaged in this way years ago and we could have saved ourselves a few bob (we include ourselves in this).

    Right, just off to buy a Smart TV enabled [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]Android App Bowel Monitor with built in Sky and Coffee Grinder.

  • Comment number 10.

    IMHO, "smart" tvs are no more than a marketing ploy to try to force earlier "upgrades". My 2010 Blu-ray player hasn't been updated in ages. It featured weather, youtube and picasa when I got it, and that's all its got now, despite newer players having iPlayer and NetFlix. Reading comments elsewhere, other manufacturers don't treat their customers any better either.

    Save yourself some money. Go and buy a cheap "Net top" for under £200 with Windows 7. You can then install the applications you want, rather than relying on the TV, STB or Blu-ray manufacturer to keep it up to date.

    Then, when it does become obsolete, you need only spend another £200, instead of £800+ for a new TV.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm using the interface in the Sony Bluray which I assume uses the same player. I cannot find the subtitles. I know the BBC are committed to this. Am I missing something?

  • Comment number 12.

    A week or so the iplayer interface on my Sony blu ray player appeared to be updated to include HD. However, only a couple of programmes are clickable on, and they don't have a 'watch now' button. There are no programmes at all on the channels or categories etc buttons. Iplayer works fine on my bt vision box, so it's a software rather than broadband problem. And BBC News is nowhere to be seen. Anyone else have this problem?

  • Comment number 13.

    I know the BBC News App and BBC Sport App are coming to TiVo in Q1 2012. I would like to know when in Q1 2012.

 

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