New Buy Online module

Wednesday 5 December 2012, 10:00

Dan Taylor Watt Dan Taylor Watt Head of BBC iPlayer

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I'm Dan Taylor, Executive Editor for TV and iPlayer and part of my job is ensuring the TV programmes the BBC commissions and produces are as discoverable as possible online.

As well as giving information about when our programmes are broadcast on BBC TV and Radio and when they are available in BBC iPlayer we also want to let users know when they are available to buy or access on a commercial basis.

The new Buy Online module

We therefore provide a module on our programme pages which shows the commercial availability of that programme and links through to product pages which list the various formats and suppliers.

Last October Roly Keating wrote about improvements to BBC Online's Buyer's Guide/Commercial Availability feature on the About the BBC blog.

Today I'm updating on further improvements we've recently made to the feature.

The motivation remains the same: help licence fee payers to find the programmes their licence fee helped create, even when they are no longer on television, radio or BBC iPlayer.

So, what's changed and why?

Firstly, a more common sense label: 'Buy Online' replaces the rather stuffy 'Commercial Availability'.

Secondly, a new design where the product page that lists the availability of a programme in different formats inherits the styling of the original programme page (e.g. Doctor Who).

Previous product page for Doctor Who

The new page

Thirdly, the addition of links to digital download and on demand streaming services such as iTunes and LOVEFiLM alongside links to physical formats (CD, DVD and Blu-ray).

We carried out extensive user testing during the development cycle to make sure that the new presentation made sense to users and tweaked the designs and labelling accordingly.

Future plans include the integration with the Episode Guide on BBC programme pages so you can see at a glance which series and episodes are available to buy online.

We'll also be continuing to add new products and suppliers to make the most comprehensive possible view of BBC programme availability.

Dan Taylor is Executive Editor, BBC TV & iPlayer.

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    Comment number 1.

    Will you also be pro-actively adding scheduling/programming information for items which are available commercially? Plus, will you be adding all of the schedule information gathered in the BBC Genome project. It really would be excellent to look at a random date in the 70s and see what was on through the programme infrastructure. How about additional links to non-BBC products like films on Buy Online so we can see if they're streamable on Lovefilm after they've dropped from the iPlayer.

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    Comment number 2.

    Does it work with Invisible Hand?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    @Stuart. Thanks for your questions. Yes, we're in the process of adding programme pages for archive programmes with commercial availability (e.g. Pennies from Heaven). Re: the schedule information gathered in the BBC Genome project, unfortunately it doesn't yet have the brand/series/episode structure needed to integrate with the programmes infrastructure although that's something I hope we'll be able to achieve in the future. Linking to non-BBC products came out of the user testing as something users didn't expect the BBC to do, although that's something we could revisit if they start telling us they would expect it / find it useful.

    @Briantist. I believe InvisibleHand is designed to work with retail sites so wouldn't work on BBC Online, although it looks like it works with some of the supplier sites we link to.

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    Comment number 4.

    Thank you for this: I am boycotting Amazon at the moment so it's good to have the choices.

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    Comment number 5.

    From a transparency point of view, how do you select the suppliers? or how do suppliers register to be included? Is there guidance on how large or established they have to be, or how wide a range they need to carry to qualify?

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    Comment number 6.

    @5 alaninbelfast Try following the link on the word 'suppliers' from the arcticle:

    It describes how to apply and what criteria are used.

    There is a link providing this information from the product page on the top far right, see:

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    Comment number 7.

    @Dan_Taylor Thanks for you thorough reply. I had wondered about channels which aren't listed already on the programme system now, especially in the radio area. I expect that will cause a few issues.

    Not sure if this is the right place, but while I'm on the topic, some of the Doctor Who pages have the wrong logo on them due to season slippage. Season 11, despite being Pertwee should have the Diamond logo:

    Season 18 should have the neon logo:

    Thanks however for fixing the TV Movie:

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    @Stuart Ian Burns: I asked someone about the Doctor Who logo issue and I hope the response received helps understand why this decision was made.

    'It’s an interesting one. For the older seasons of Doctor Who (1963 – 1989 and the TVM in the 1990s) we assigned each Doctor a logo. We chose the logo which our audience most identified with that Doctor. So, for Jon Pertwee’s era we gave him the logo that was ‘his’ throughout all but his final 5 stories – i.e. season 11.

    Similarly, for Tom Baker’s era we assigned him the ‘diamond logo’ which had been ‘his’ for all but one of his seven seasons.

    It took a lot of work with our colleagues to ensure we could use ‘old’ branding but we hope it helps immerse our audience in the years which these extensive pages cover. We’ll be adding a huge amount of content to these sections and we may review the branding. Our current approach is designed in part to ‘take people back’ and give them a flavour of that Doctor’s era, but I know it’s not a precise science and some fans who are aware of the branding intricacies may want a different approach. As I say, we’ve not finished with these pages – lots more content to go – so this issue may be revisited at some point in the future.'

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    Comment number 9.

    I'd love to be able to access BBC programs iplayerbeven for a fee. Is there any way to do so in the US?


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