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2012 - an amazing year for our audiences and partners

Adrian Ruth Adrian Ruth | 12:22 UK time, Wednesday, 29 February 2012

2012 is set to be one of the most exciting years in the history of the BBC, as we bring huge events like the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics to our audiences.

But we couldn't do all this on our own - partnerships will play a key role in many of these occasions. And they aren't unique in that - slowly and surely, partnerships have become a way of life for us here - and Delivering Quality First confirmed that it's going to stay that way.

Last summer, I gave an overview of two of our partnerships with more of a "tech" focus which had recently launched: iPlayer Linking, a feature in BBC iPlayer that helps you find programmes from other broadcasters like ITV and Channel 4, and Radioplayer, which provides easy online listening to hundreds of BBC, commercial and community stations in one place.

Nine months later, and I'm pleased to say they're both working a treat. BBC iPlayer users can click seamlessly to ITV hits like Downton Abbey and the X Factor, and Radioplayer has almost seven million listeners a month, and has driven a 21% rise in online hours since 2010. Users can now access the Radioplayer not only from their web browser, but also through a Facebook application, and a downloadable desktop version. With any luck, it won't be long before there are further versions for mobile, tablet and connected TV.

Another really interesting partnership which launched last year is Your Paintings, the result of a collaboration between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation and museums, galleries and painting owners across the UK. By the end of 2012, the site will host photographs of 200,000 oil paintings in public ownership in the UK. So far, we're over half-way there, at 110,000 and counting. Staggering.

Screen grab from the Your Paintings website.

Although the examples above are quite different, they all have 'connectivity' in common. Part of our remit is to encourage people to make the most of new technologies which make this connectivity possible - so we've been working with Martha Lane-Fox's Race Online 2012 and others to do just that. We have run two major campaigns in the past two years: we provided a 'tool kit' to help people make their "First Click", and then encouraged people who use the internet regularly to "Give an Hour" to help get someone online for the first time. 1.3m respondents took some kind of action because of the Give an Hour campaign, and 334,000 people said they had already helped or planned to help someone get on line. Still a way to go, but what a great start.

So if 2011 was the year when our partnerships really started to deliver, what's next for 2012?

Well, trials for YouView (below), the all-in-one digital plug-and-play set-top-box, are already underway. YouView bills itself as "everything you've ever wanted from TV in one easy-to-use box" - Freeview, catch-up TV, High Definition, a Personal Video Recorder and apps galore. It's set to launch later this year.

There's also The Space, a partnership between the BBC and Arts Council England to create an experimental digital arts media service across PC, mobile, tablet and connected TV. It will showcase dozens of new commissions in the shape of short or long form video, audio, slideshows, games or interactive experiences and will be given context by archive collections from ACE, BBC and other partners. It's an exciting experiment enabling arts organisations to use new technologies and discover innovative ways to exhibit content.

And not forgetting the enormity of the Olympics and the London 2012 Festival. Have a look at the BBC Media Centre website to see how the BBC is getting involved.

It's going to be a fantastic year, not only for us here at the BBC, but also for our partners, and most importantly for our audiences. You can follow our progress on partnerships here.

Adrian Ruth is Controller, Partnerships

Listen to Adrian discuss his work as Controller, Partnerships in a recent interview with About the BBC website editor Jon Jacob.


  • Comment number 1.

    I thought the most important partnership that came to delivery in 2011 was the PFI style noose that the BBC has put around its own neck in Salford. A black hole that will swallow any "savings" from the sale of TV Centre.

  • Comment number 2.

    The iPlayer linking is not quite a level playing field. Hop around the BBC channels and it always starts at evening peak time viewing with most of the evening in view. Change to the non BBC channels and it starts from the beginning of the day, always requiring one or two clicks to get to the evening view, every time you switch channels. A small thing, I know, but all those unneeded extra clicks add up and become annoying after a while...

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks for a good point, @dukeofearl – I’ll raise it with the team, and hopefully we can sort that out with the next iPlayer refresh.


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