Freeview scheduling on BBC Red Button - making hard decisions
It's been a while since I last wrote a blog so apologies for that. It's been an incredibly busy time for BBC Red Button as we saw a record number of viewers tuning in for all manner of Sport, Music and Entertainment; we have been taking part in a Service Licence review (more soon) and this year we have begun to focus on how we can take advantage of TVs that are connected to the Internet but more of that for another day.
But whilst we enjoy your great feedback, a large number of your comments received are around the lack of Red Button content on Freeview due to restricted bandwidth on that platform.
We do try to use the capacity available to cater for the widest range of programmes and we have reduced run times of certain programmes to fit in as many services as possible.
Our top priority is major events especially Sport but also events such as Glastonbury, BBC Proms, Chelsea Flower Show, alongside Wimbledon and this year’s World Cup.
Outside of these events decisions are made based on a number of factors including: linear TV schedule, live services with uniquely available content, continuity for on-going and returning services, as well as providing a range of different genres to engage the widest possible audience. I hope you enjoyed these programmes that included for the first time this year; Dragon's Den; Inside the Den; Radio4 Comedy from Edinburgh Festival and Bake Off which taught people how to bake for Children In Need.
In the countdown to 2012, we are also showing a lot more Olympic sports including Youth Olympic Games from Singapore; Paralympics World Swimming, BMX all featured.
When we have to make a choice between different events of the same genre (often the case with sport and music festivals), we aim to offer what we think will be the most popular service based on previous audience figures. At the same time we endeavour to offer unique content and to enhance and not duplicate that already available on linear TV channels.
Occasionally it looks like we are showing the same content on BBC One (or Two etc) as on BBC Red Button but this is when we hand over from those channels to Red Button and we have a cross-over period. Often Red Button will be showing a live stream when BBC One is also showing some of that sport, but we have decided that maintaining one live stream on Red Button even if BBC One is showing some of it is preferable.
So we do agree that when live events are available on Red Button, Freeview viewers do not always receive the same amount of video content as on satellite or cable - although you can watch the same content for free via bbc.co.uk and often BBC iPlayer – but for all other content we aim to make sure it is scheduled on Freeview during the week.
To help viewers find the video content on Freeview, we introduced Electronic Programme Guide information available by pressing ‘i’ on your remote controls when watching a Red Button video or from the Electronic Programme Guide for channel 301. This allows you to record video (if you have a PVR) and also to make a note of times, a feature that is not available on other platforms.
Coming up in the next week is The Commonwealth Games where we will be looking to bring all viewers the very best of this sporting event. I hope you enjoy it.
John Denton is Managing Editor, BBC Red Button