BBC Sport Beta Facebook App

Thursday 28 June 2012, 14:51

Aaron Scullion Aaron Scullion Executive Product Manager

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BBC Sport app beta, showing Wimbledon. You're watching Bemelmans vs Gasquet, as are four of your friends. Court 3 is the most popular.

Mockup of the Facebook app during play, showing the social enhancement of the video

I'm Aaron Scullion, Executive Product Manager at BBC Future Media. I'm currently working on sport and the Olympics at the BBC, and recently blogged about the new BBC Sport app for connected TVs that we launched in April. I'd like to tell you about another way we're making it possible for you to watch live video from BBC Sport.

Today, we have launched a new BBC Sport Facebook app - the details are in the press release. During the Olympics this will enable users in the UK to watch up to 24 streams of live Olympics video the BBC is broadcasting (plus BBC One, Two and Three) - directly within Facebook.

Right now, we're running the service as a beta, featuring all our live video from Wimbledon - up to six live streams, plus BBC One and Two.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the app is a BBC Sport service, but is entirely delivered within Facebook.

This means that we can use the social functionality Facebook offers to enhance the experience.

For example, when you watch a match in Facebook, you can see how many people - and how many people you're friends with on Facebook - are watching that same event.

As well as that, the fact that you're watching the match is shared with your friends, via an update in their Facebook news feed. (You can easily remove each update with a single click if you don't want to share at a particular time).

You can also see which matches are proving most popular on Facebook, and switch to a different video stream on that basis.

We want as many licence fee payers as possible to have access to the full Olympics live video offering, and our Facebook app will offer this to viewers who may not regularly visit the BBC Sport website. As previously announced, during the Games the BBC will offer audiences more choice than ever before with up to 24 Olympic streams on cable, satellite, online and connected TV. Helping viewers find the event they want to watch is key, and our Facebook app offers another way to choose what you want to watch, by showing which events are most popular with the public, and which events your friends are watching.

We will be testing the BBC Sport app during Wimbledon, and updating it with more functionality as we go.

This is the first time the BBC has streamed content in Facebook, and we are excited to offer our audiences a social viewing experience around big sports events.

As ever, the full BBC Sport offering continues to be available at

In the near future we'll blog about this app again, with more details on the technical architecture that underpins what we've launched today. I'd be very interested in hearing feedback from anyone who has tried the application in the comments below.

Aaron Scullion is Executive Product Manager, BBC Future Media

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  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    In order to watch Rosol v Nadal, I needed to click on "Karlovic v Murray - Centre Court" of the available links on the right under "Most Popular". Something not quite right there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I don't see why people are so hurt by this. BBC coverage is being brought to more people through Facebook, whilst it's still just as accessible to anyone who isn't on the social network. Shouldn't we be glad that everyone can more easily watch this amazing summer of sport?

    With regard to advertising, it's inadvertent. Like the Carlsberg ads that appear on the boards around Football stadia the Beeb broadcasts from. Or the high street stores shown in background shots during the News.

    Having used the app a bit, it looks great. I can't wait to share The Olympics with my Facebook friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    ^ Greg the problem is that by providing content to Facebook, the BBC is allowing Facebook, Inc (a profit making company) to benefit from the content funded by BBC licence fee payers. It's like the BBC producing Eastenders and then handing it to ITV to air.

    Not only that, but the BBC employs some great technical people and these people should surely be dedicated to making the best website it can be. We don't know how many people worked on this project, but we do know that by spending time working for Facebook's benefit, did not receive some improvements that it could have.

    If the issue is that people can't find the content on the BBC website, then more should be done to improve the user experience on this website, rather than providing content to third parties for them to profit from.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I personally agree with Greg. It is good for the BBC to be expanding its base to target new audiences and allow them to make the most of the experience and to share it with friends.

    In response to FishFingers, the BBC were specifically told in the 2004 Hutton Report that BBC Online shouldn't try and compete to outside websites, instead if that information is provided elsewhere they should link to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    I am quite frankly appalled at the communication of the BBC. I had no notice of the closure of the News Multiscreen Service which I have always valued. There was no lead in and I actually only found out today when I checked online to see what had happened. The notice was given on 14 June and the Service was removed after this time. I value the internet content but not everyone can afford to have the latest model tv or have access to the internet. And the comments page is shut less than a fortnight after the initial announcement. Was there any viewer involvement in this decision?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Sorry, I really don't understand the need for this as the content's already stated as being readily available on the BBC Sport website which, is supposedly so popular that it withstood thousands of negative comments about its 'upgrade' earlier this year.
    Why just facebook too?
    I would consider most real sports fans (who sadly do like the awful new BBC Sport website) would have the page flagged in their 'Favorites' & wouldn't need anything on facebook.
    I think it would have been better to invest time investigating & actually providing responses as to why this was so negatively received & invest in producing what was required by respondants thereby not requiring this cheapening of the much vaunted brand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    It's great to see BBC Sport now on facebook for Wimbledon and the Olympics. It's going to be a great summer of sport for the BBC and is going to be watched by everyone via loads of different ways, which is great as it shows the BBC is now up to date with the latest technology available.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    A number of you have commented on the nature of the BBC Sport app on Facebook, and I wanted to respond to your questions and feedback. 

    As stated in my original post above, the BBC Sport app on Facebook is part of the BBC's strategy to ensure we deliver maximum public value by providing our content for free across a range of devices and platforms. 
    The content in the new BBC Sport Facebook app is not unique or bespoke for Facebook. So, for Wimbledon, this is exactly the same content that you can access via web browsers on the BBC Sport website on desktop, mobile and tablet, and on red button and Internet-connected TVs.  
    We have already announced very similar BBC Sports apps to make our Olympics content available on red button services for Virgin Media, Sky and FreeSat. A BBC Sport app is also now available on smart TV’s and games consoles by manufacturers including Sony, Panasonic and Samsung.
    I also wanted to clarify that there is no commercial arrangement with Facebook. In terms of advertising, the app has been built using the standard Facebook page structure. Where advertising currently appears within Facebook’s format, this will be reflected in the BBC Sport app. The exception is for the Olympics where there will be no advertising around the app, in accordance with relevant laws protecting the Olympic trademark and by the IOC.
    Re. data, anyone using the BBC Sport app on Facebook is already an existing Facebook user, and as such already share their data with Facebook. From the BBC’s side, data will be used only for the purposes of enabling the features within the app, and no data about the user is stored permanently on BBC servers.  
    With over 30m users of Facebook in the UK, we see Facebook as another distribution platform for us to reach an audience who might not naturally come to but who are nevertheless interested in our content.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Aaron the difference is that by making content available on different devices, you are providing a key benefit to users in allowing them to access it where they would otherwise not be able to (tablet, TV etc as you said).

    However, this "application" for Facebook carries the same requirements as you have for accessing the content on the BBC Sport website - user must have computer with internet, browser and appropriate plugin. So where is the benefit to the licence fee payers in embedding this on

    The only beneficiary that I can see is Facebook, Inc.

    If users are unaware that they can watch tennis on the BBC website, despite the constant TV and radio mentions as part of the broadcast, then surely these people are not going to be interested, whether it is available on Facebook or not.

    Also, can I ask how you will measure the success of this, given that there is no way to determine if a user on Facebook only accessed the content because they did not know to visit to find it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    @28 You state that "We have already announced very similar BBC Sports apps to make our Olympics content available on red button services for Virgin Media, Sky and FreeSat. A BBC Sport app is also now available on smart TV’s and games consoles by manufacturers including Sony, Panasonic and Samsung."

    Forgive me if I am wrong, as I have only witnessed the Samsung TV, the Virgin Offering and the Red Button, but there is a fundamental difference. Advertising. None of these "very similar" offerings have advertising, and therefore a direct revenue stream for the provider off the back of the BBC content. Yes they are commercial companies that indirectly make money by offering BBC content (i.e. by increasing the desirability of their product). But they do not directly make cash via an ad stream.

    You haven't answered the question about how this fits with the BBC policy/charter that states "the Agreement forbids any BBC service funded by the licence fee or grant-in-aid from carrying advertising or sponsored programmes".

    Could this be answered?

    Also - who provides the adverts? Facebook? Could a competitor have ads next to BBC Content? Or worse still what happens if adverts are served that contradict BBC values or are from a political party - how would that fit with BBC impartiality?

    PS. I wanted to have a look at it to see how prominent the ads were etc. All I get is
    "Use of app "BBC Sport" has been restricted" despite being on Virgin ISP in London! Nice One!

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    @29 I would assume the benefit of this app is that it allows users to talk about what they are watching, with their friends (and the general public if they want), in real time. Creating a much better social experience for everyone.

    It also allows other people to see what their friends are watching, and in turn this will make more people watch the live streams. Which again is a benefit that can't be provided on any of the other platforms without having several things open at once.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    This seems pointless, it offers nothing other than advertising for facebook on-top of the existing bbc website. spend more time developing decent apps and web sites for devices that need it.

    the new video player for example on my iPad doesnt go full screen when I click it, it only fills the browser window (apart from still showing the bbc header at the top)

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Excellent! it appears that live streaming is going to happen for the Olympics but I don't think it should be on FB anyway. Why not go the whole hog and give it to SKY TV as well. Surely the BBC want to get their own viewing figures and not give FB the advantage of seeing how valuable something like the Olympics is to them. Fast forward 10 years and the only place to watch it will be on Facebook and a lot of the BBC staff will be applying for a job at McDonalds because they stupidly gave events like this away. A nail in your own coffin I think

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    So if the Advertising is binned thanks to the IOC insisting, (presumably to protect its own deals) then it is technically possible for the advertising on the BBC's own facebook output to be binned all the time.

    And Aaron, Facebook is not a platform. It's a portal. Don't fool us with the red herring of Sky, Virgin Media, et al, and answer the previously asked questions, which other websites will be able to stream licence payers content.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    As a frequent user of Facebook and someone who completely ignores the advertising on there I don't really have a problem with the availability of BBC content on there. I regularly view YouTube content on there that I would not see if it was not available through Facebook so it will more than likely open BBC content to an audience that would not otherwise see it.

    I do question though if I wished to include BBC content on my website would I be allowed to do so? Surely I should be granted such permission based on this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    That's the multi-million dollar question that so far, the BBC has refused to answer.
    Who can stream BBC content on their own website, and if they can't, why are they favouring Facebook?

    We have been told it's to open up the availability of BBC programmes, by the BBC's own previous statements, so to that effect, any Tom, Dick, or Zuckerberg can stream away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    '37. At 21:25 6th Jul 2012, Green Soap -
    That's the multi-million dollar question that so far, the BBC has refused to answer.
    The choice of currency seems apt, somehow. All rather forewarned here:
    Thoughts invited, and then when not to taste threatened with the norty step and then so treated. Before a closing. It's worth popping over to the Newsnight thread to see how well the move to twitter and FaceBook is working out. No, really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    So, coming up for nearly 2 weeks since the last post, which didn't address the fundamental problems of 3rd party BBC content hosting, and streaming.

    When will we be treated to a reply to these issues, or will they continue to be ignored, as they are uncomfortable to answer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Hi, I manage partnerships within the technology industry for the BBC. The BBC Sport app for Facebook was built by the BBC and all content is streamed to the end user from our servers via a BBC player within the app. We don’t syndicate individual streams to other parties or websites. As with this app, any apps that we build on 3rd party platforms are in line with the BBC’s Syndication Guidelines which you can find here


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