Connected Red Button Launch

Tuesday 4 December 2012, 12:00

Matt Coulson Matt Coulson Executive Product Manager

I'm Matt Coulson, Executive Product Manager for Red Button in BBC TV and Mobile Platforms.

Today we are launching the new BBC Connected Red Button on the Virgin TiVo service with plans to roll out the service to a range of connected TVs and operators in 2013.

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Connected Red Button video

Connected Red Button brings TV, radio and BBC online together in the simplest way possible. (See the press release for more details.)

The service is presented in a feature rich yet powerfully simple experience that is suitable for just about anyone.

It enhances the traditional Red Button service by bringing TV, news, sport, radio and weather together on the big screen enabling you to:

  • Discover more shows from your favourite channel or station.
  • Enjoy programmes from channels even when they're off air: watch programmes from BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC or CBeebies day or night.
  • Catch programmes you missed with BBC iPlayer at the press of a button.
  • Read or watch the latest news clips and stories that matter to you.
  • Never miss the action from the sports you're passionate about including live events, highlights and headlines.
  • Find out about the weather in your area.

Yet while this is a significant milestone in the evolution of Red Button, it is only the beginning.

The journey to Connected Red Button began in 2011 with a vision for the next generation of Red Button services underscored by a number of core product principles.

The vision set out by Daniel Danker in his blog post was to reimagine Red Button for a new generation of connected TV audiences, retaining the simplicity, usability and range of content available in the original.

We aimed to harness the latest in TV and internet technology to create a personalised user experience with rich curated content and to set a new standard of interaction on the big-screen - but most of all to make the result so effortless and natural that the technology becomes invisible and the content takes centre stage.

Viewing content by channel on BBC Connected Red Button

Viewing content by channel on BBC Connected Red Button

While Connected Red Button is a long term strategic product, it in no way signals the demise of traditional BBC Red Button.

Twenty million people a month press red on the BBC and our ambition is to develop the service and increase the size of our audience.

Connected Red Button makes its debut on Virgin TiVo, an open platform that enables innovation through third party services.

Virgin set-top boxes are connected to the internet, a requirement for the new Connected Red Button. Virgin TiVo subscribers were also, until now, unable to receive traditional BBC Red Button services so we're delighted to bring Connected Red Button to this audience.

Throughout 2012 the BBC has also been engaging with a number of TV manufacturers and platform operators regarding our connected TV application plans and the related technical specifications and certification requirements.

We'll be rolling out Connected Red Button to a range of connected TV devices during 2013 and in many cases 2012 TVs will also be upgraded to Connected Red Button.

Over time, as audiences use televisions and set-top boxes which are increasingly connected we expect to migrate them from the traditional Red Button to the new Connected Red Button.

With forecasts of up to 22 million connected TVs installed in UK homes by the end of 2016 Connected Red Button is well positioned as an enhanced Red Button service for users who already have or intend to buy supported connected televisions for their homes.

There is lots of new content and features planned for the coming year including improved event support, more content from your favourite programmes and better personalisation.

Discover more BBC content

We also see a world where mobile and tablet editions team up with Connected Red Button on the big screen to deliver some truly immersive and versatile experiences.

The Connected Red Button programme was managed as a series of agile delivery projects blending concept work, user centred interaction design, testing and audience trials with iterative software development.

The product was engineered using BDD (behaviour-driven development) and TDD (test-driven development) encouraging close collaboration between product owners, testers, software engineers and designers.

Crucially engineering teams worked shoulder-to-shoulder with editorial teams to jointly create an experience that blends technology and content in a brand new way for audiences, capitalising on the BBC's unique expertise in high quality curation.

The service is a new and important addition to the BBC's Red Button portfolio. We hope you enjoy using the service and we look forward to receiving feedback over the coming days, weeks and months.

Senior UX designer Robin Gibson has blogged about designing the Connected Red Button for TiVo while technical lead Duncan Fortescue has written a post outlining how they built the feature.

Matt Coulson is the Executive Product Manager for Red Button in BBC TV and Mobile Platforms.


Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Looks nice but sad it's not available on YouView, and instead on a pay TV service. Will it be available on YouView soon?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    So satellite (Sky boxes) gets its red button service cut down to a solitary red button feed to match the limitations of Freeview, but Virgin boxes get a new connected service?

    Great work BBC...

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Why was this rolled out on a pay-tv platform instead of Freeview+ and Freesat+?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    re: post number one. I would assume YouView is one of the platforms earmarked for future release.

    I guess good things come to those who wait!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I'm guessing the reason it's not initially on Youview is that for any kind of interactive service there needs to be a way for user input to get back to the "server" so that it can provide the requested information. A Virgin cable box is, by definition, permanently connected to such a "server", whereas I imagine the vast majority of Youview boxes, even the ones that could be connected to a local wired or wifi network, are not so connected.

    (full disclosure: I am a member of BBC staff but not part of the Connected Red Button team at all)

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Sorry Iain but you seem to know very little about YouView.

    ALL YouView boxes are by definition, permanently connected to a local wired local network otherwise they wouldn't be able to access any of the On Demand and Catch Up content.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Ok. Good. Does this mean that as a Virgin TiVo customer ill now be able to play along with stuff (test the nation, antiques roadshow) as well as access different content?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Virgin seems an odd choice, can you provide some transparency around that decision? - are they subsidising development?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Instead of trying to reinvent the internet, how about spending money on some sport to show on your channels? The Olympics were great (as we will be reminded, over and over again at SPOTY) but they've passed now, and the beebs sports output is now, frankly shocking!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Good move, but also concerned at the target launching. I would expect the Corporation to have a broad range of release platforms at the start, even if this means delaying launches to accomodate this.

    I sincerely hope that HD sourced material on the non HD channels, BBC ONE HD and BBC TWO HD (soon to replace BBC HD) will be made available in HD via this platform to make up for the loss of simulcast with BBC HD's closure.

    Please reassure me that ALL 2012 vintage connected TVs will be switched to this service, and that once again early obsolescence wont be repeated, as with Sony 2010 receivers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.


    Congratulations on the launch of a new service. Could the follow up post go heavy on the technical details please?

    E.g. API end points, protocols, technical documentation needed to implement a client.

    This would save an awful lot of time setting up a packet capture environment and putting it all back together again. Please think of the poor lowly open source PVR/TVR developers.



  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Why has is this only being made available to Virgin Tivo users?
    Surely the BBC should be rolling this out simulataneously to all internet enabled TVs and set-top boxes, including Freeview and Youview.
    What is the justification for allowing one particular providers hardware exclusive use of a BBC provided service (even temporarily)?

  • Comment number 13.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    This is all very well but utterly pointless unless you are a Virgin customer who happens to have the Tivo box!

    Why isnt this available on SKy for example with its HD Boxes which can handle on demand services and also multiple screens via the red button?

    I quick check indicates that 44% of the UK population now has Satellite compared to just 13% having cable.. So why have the BBC chosen the smallest available platform to launch this new advanced service???

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Read the flippin' article!

    TiVo was chosen as it is open source, so allows easier development. Anyone who has Sky Anytime+ will tell you it took a long time for the iPlayer to launch due to development issues arising from having to work within Sky's framework.

    This will be available on all connected TV's soon - and I assume this includes Sky customers who are connected - but for now it has been rolled out for what is essentially a beta test.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    "Twenty million people a month press red on the BBC and our ambition is to develop the service and increase the size of our audience."

    That may have been true when Sky and Freesat had 5 red button channels but I bet you'll stop telling us how many presses now.

    Removing the extras "to be in line with Freeview" was a mistake and will ultimately reduce what the BBC covets most, viewers.

    I personally found plenty of things on the red button not broadcast elsewhere (Horrible Histories at the Proms still being the best example) but now it's rarely anything except an extension of what's on BBC1.

    Poor show all round.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Firstly could I suggest you embed the video from the press release on this page? I read the article and thought "This seems like an obvious place to include a video, why is there no video?" It turns out there is one, you just buried it behind a link to the press release in the middle of the article. For those of you looking for a clearer explanation of this announcement, take a look.

    The video appears to show this new platform existing side-by-side with the current iPlayer on connected TV experience, maintaining two disparate interfaces. It seems as though one of the features of this new connected TV experience is access to on-demand programming, an obvious duplication of functionality?

    Lastly for the haters/moaners/trolls: Of course in a perfect world this would be made available to every household tomorrow, but that clearly isn't feasible. Virgin's Tivo is in 1.2 million homes (according to the aforementioned press release). In comparison TalkTalk (admittedly not the only way to get YouView) had less than 30,000 YouView customers in November. It is also a single, known hardware platform unlike Freeview/Freesat boxes. That just leaves Sky and Virgin; the article repeatedly praises the openness and ease of development Tivo offers, presumably an advantage over Sky. In that context Tivo doesn't seem like such a crazy launch platform.

    Those of you who still just want to be angry, you'll just have to wait for an expanded rollout next year... the same wait you would have had if the release was held until all platforms were ready.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I hope this service doesnt get cut half way through the season as the red button did or it changes its stream 4 laps from the endof a race, i used to rate the red button untill the new bloke took over, now its rubbish

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    cool!! I'm going home to watch it on my Tivo box now!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Good to see text stories now available in sport, but so far only headlines. It would good if there were separate sections for football, cricket, rugby etc and there is no football results, fixtures or league tables.


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