Wimbledon on the red button
We're well into our second day of interactive TV coverage from Wimbledon and already I can see a theme developing in responses to Paul Davies' blog.
Duplication of content is a criticism regularly levelled at us during Wimbledon. I should point out from the off that the services on the satellite and cable platforms are very different to that on Freeview.
Firstly, we think it is important to offer all the best choices within the Multiscreen, and that invariably means including the match that our network colleagues are showing. We want to offer a complete service, so viewers who have pressed the red button can choose from all the available options. If we were to omit the matches available on network then viewers would either be unaware of the network match option, or would back out of the service to find out.
Secondly, we have a finite number of commentary teams, all of whom are racing around to different courts to ensure we have five available matches. It is a rare moment indeed when we have commentary from more than five courts at any given time.
As for Freeview, interactive viewers on this platform will be aware that we encompass our two extra streams alongside the offerings on BBC ONE and TWO - which means we always have at least three options, and for much of the afternoon we have four.
On occasion, we end up showing the same match on both BBC ONE or TWO and one of our interactive streams and I can see why this infuriates viewers. We always aim to not to duplicate but sometimes it is unavoidable.
As an example, BBC ONE may be showing coverage from Centre Court, while we are offering Court One and Court Two on our interactive streams. If the Centre Court match ends, BBC ONE might opt to show ten minutes from Court One before rejoining Centre Court for the next match there, thus resulting in duplication.
Now, in this instance it would be impractical for us to suddenly switch our Court One interactive coverage to a different court when we would have to jump back to it ten minutes later once BBC ONE had returned to Centre Court.
If, however, we know that BBC ONE intend to stick with a court that we have on an interactive stream, then we will bring in our faithful presenter Rob Curling on board to redirect viewers and allows us to offer an alternative match. We did this around six times on the opening day. Apologies if all that has given you a headache - it certainly gives us plenty.
Now, having said all that, I have to admit we were caught short with the end of the Roger Federer match on the opening day, so please accept our apologies. It is normally our intention to always have the Centre Court option available.
I also see that a few eagle-eyed (eared?) viewers have noticed that we have lost the ability to listen to the audios of each stream while still in the Multiscreen. I agree that this was a nice feature but we have gained a number of advantages by losing this feature. Most importantly we can redesign the look and feel of the service very quickly now, whereas before we required a lot of technical resource every time we wanted to make a change.
Towards the end of the tournament, for instance, we will be required to reduce the number of streams to make way for other interactive services. We can now do this very easily - without impacting on our resources, while at the same time maintaining a viewer-friendly design.