Digital and technology partnerships with the BBC

Monday 4 March 2013, 10:00

Cyrus Saihan Cyrus Saihan Head, Business Development

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Hi I’m Cyrus Saihan, head of Business Development in the BBC’s Future Media division.

In Business Development we work with third party digital and technology companies to make sure that we are using the latest technologies and platforms to help us make BBC products and services as innovative as possible.

This also enables us to reach the widest possible online audience and hopefully energise the UK industry as a result.

lord-reith-1024.jpg Lord Reith: the best of everything to the greatest number of homes

We act as a central contact point and manage the BBC’s relationships with international technology giants such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

We also work with small and medium sized technology companies to identify ways that we can collaborate with them and help them navigate the BBC.

The BBC has always worked with third party technology companies and in fact our history is closely aligned to such partnerships.

When the BBC was founded way back in 1922 it came about directly as a result of a collaborative effort with a group of radio manufactures including Marconi and General Electric.

Lord Reith (the first director general of the BBC) defined the BBC’s role as “to bring the best of everything to the greatest number of homes” and this is something that we continue to strive for today in the digital world.

A key way of doing this is by partnering with a range of companies and for a wide variety of reasons. To give you a few recent examples of this:

We worked with Microsoft and Inside Secure towards the end of last year to integrate PlayReady technology to protect our programmes, which in turn allowed us to launch mobile downloads for BBC iPlayer.

Adobe is a company that we have partnered with on a range of projects from the launch of iPlayer on the desktop (using their Flash technology) to our recent work with them on the BBC Media Player for Android.

We also recently worked with the Cambridge based audio watermarking company Intrasonics to help deliver the Antiques Roadshow play-along app that we launched in January.

The ‘silent’ audio watermarks are inserted into the broadcasted show enabling mobile and tablet devices to ‘hear’ these audio watermarks which allows the app to know exactly where someone playing along is in the show.

We are always interested in hearing about new innovations that we could potentially bring to our audiences and also on the look-out for partnership opportunities in the digital space that could help the wider industry.

Do get in touch if you have some technologies, platforms or ideas that you think could help us to support the industry and continue to inform, educate and entertain in a digital world.

Cyrus Saihan is head of Business Development, BBC Future Media.

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    Comment number 1.

    Considering the 2.5 years the BBC has been working on the Android iPlayer and are STILL unable to deliver something adequate, perhaps it is time to consider ending the partnership with Adobe.

    May I suggest the BBC contact the original authors of BeebPlayer or MyPlayer as they were able to produce working iPlayer clients. Maybe it would have been better to work WITH these people instead of killing off their excellent products.

    You may also like to consider working with the developer of the excellent MX Player for Android (10 MILLION downloads and averaging 4.7 on Play as opposed to 15 thousand downloads and averaging 2.3 on Play for the BBC's dire Adobe based BBC Media Player).

    Do the reviews and ratings on Google Play for iPlayer and BBC Media player not tell you anything? The Adobe route is the WRONG route.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Must agree with comment 1. Adobe and the BBC have an epic fail on their hands with the way they have dealt with Android apps. You only have to look at the latest Android 4OD app to see what should have been done!

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    Comment number 3.

    @2 You only have to look at the latest Android 4OD app to see what should have been done!

    But that only works on Android 4.0 and above - the BBC felt the need to support earlier versions of Android. It only gets 2.2 as a rating so it probably isn't that good for many users (including those on rooted devices).

    BeebPlayer and MyPlayer were as I understand it removed from the market as they used streams that the BBC couldn't allow to be used by Android devices as they don't meet the security requirements placed upon them by the rights holders.

    I agree MX Player is great for unsecured streams and video sources and if the BBC could remove DRM from iPlayer from Android it would be good option although this appears unlikely to happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Cyrus, given the current rate of technology convergence and trends as indicated by articles like I would say these partnerships are essential to keep BBC both current and relevant. For me, the product partnerships like those with Adobe mentioned above and specific platforms (e.g. Android) are less interesting than those that aim to leverage the likes of new algorithms for search. As the volume of available content grows rapidly in BBC archives, excellent projects like BBCs Radio Snippets need to make the most of industry developments in order to deliver the best possible user experience... without partnerships I believe this will not be possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    It seems that the BBC is incapable of writing a properly compliant HTML5 application, let alone proper "Apps" for any device that isn't prefixed with the magic 'i'....

    I'm not interested in you various technology 'partnerships'. I want access to the content that I've paid for with my licence fee, and I want the SAME QUALITY of access irrespective of the platform I'm using.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    For some further information on Android, please see my colleague Dave Price’s post:


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