The Next Wave of Domain Names and the Potential of ".bbc"
BBC R&D registered the domain name bbc.co.uk in October 1991, almost 21 years ago. It wasn’t until December 1997 that anything we would nowadays recognise as BBC Online became available from that url. It’s a core part of BBC R&D’s role within the corporation to be thinking five to ten years ahead, to be anticipating the changes in the technological landscape, and to ensure the BBC remains at the forefront of those changes.
The online landscape is set to evolve again over the next couple of years, as ICANN – the organisation that assigns and manages global top level domain names – expands the web’s suite of suffixes far beyond the traditional .com or .org. The release of domain names such as .london or .music has the potential to change the way people navigate and engage with the web.
Today ICANN reveals which brands and companies have applied for their own top level domain names. The BBC has applied for the global top level domain .bbc, and I’d like to explain our thinking behind this application.
It’s R&D’s job to consider the future impact of this increase in web addresses for online audiences. Just as we were in 1991, today we are right at the start of this process. There are three key reasons why we decided to apply for .bbc.
- Investing in the technological future of the BBC – important for us to remain at forefront of internet engineering developments, to better serve our audiences in a changing online landscape.
- Protecting and maintaining the BBC brand – as online landscape evolves, this is an important extension of the BBC’s brand protection policies.
- Potentially enhancing our relationship with online audiences – in the future the use of .bbc domains might ensure content is even easier to access and navigate for our audiences, clearly identified as coming from the BBC, or more secure and scalable.
There are clear potential benefits to a .bbc domain, both for audiences’ enjoyment of our content, and in making BBC Online fit for the future. We’re not alone in this thinking: we know Google has applied for .google and .youtube, and anticipate many more big organisations will be among those revealed this afternoon.
Now that our application is public, we look forward to the next stage of this process, as ICANN evaluates the requests. We’re still a long way from seeing a .bbc domain in the wild, but it’s interesting to consider the potential of this chapter in the evolution of the internet.