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BBC iPlayer, Red Button and Programme Pages - What we're looking for...

BBC iPlayer, Programme Pages and Red Button Strategy


Head of TV Content, BBC iPlayer: 

Victoria Jaye


Our ambition for BBC iPlayer, Programme Pages and Red Button is to drive maximum impact across the full range of our programmes and channels, ensuring they are the most discoverable, supported and engaging they can be for all audiences in a world where media is ‘always on’. We also want to use these platforms to drive creativity and innovate in new forms of high quality and ambitious content that delight and surprise our audience.

BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer is the number one brand in the UK and has a weekly reach of over 13 million. Today, 42% of those who come to the service do so without anything specific in mind to watch (up from 25% in 2008).

BBC iPlayer is becoming more than just a catch up TV platform for our audience, it’s becoming an entertainment destination in its own right and a powerful creative platform on which we can showcase new forms of content beyond our TV programme portfolio.

We’re already featuring a range of ambitious and imaginative online original, archive and Red Button content commissions in BBC iPlayer e.g. Doctor Who prequels (five million views), BBC Three comedy pilots (one million views), BBC Four archive collections (two million culmulative views), EastEnders and Casualty exclusive episodes (one million viewers each). 

Our ambition is to offer all our TV content - live channels, on-demand programmes, online original, and archive within BBC iPlayer, ensuring our unmissable content can be enjoyed wherever and whenever audiences choose.

As part of a BBC Trust approved trial we are premiering a select number of broadcast programmes on BBC iPlayer in advance of linear transmission to continue to explore new ways to offer audiences more choice and control over how they discover and enjoy BBC programmes. 

Read Victoria's About the BBC blog post: New iPlayer - Celebrating the Best of British Creativity.

Programme Pages

Every BBC television programme is supported via an online Programme Page which includes the key information audiences want to find out about our programmes: transmission times, episode synopses, an iconic short form clip per episode, programme catch-up, cast and crew credits, photo galleries, music track-lists and a range of links including where the programme is available to buy online. Today, these pages have a weekly reach of 2.5 million across mobile, tablet and PC.

Beyond providing highly valued information, Programme Pages are the creative platform on which we are delivering ever more exciting tools for Producers to re-imagine how they bring their formats, stories and events to life for audiences, driving new ways for them to enjoy and connect with BBC output . Examples of tools include: share and vote tools, Twitter integration, live blogging and off schedule live streaming.

Audiences are increasingly looking at the Programme Page about the show they’re watching, while they’re watching it on TV. Our ambition is to make that experience easier and more compelling by presenting programme page content, synchronously as  ‘companion content’, on a second device (be that a mobile, PC, tablet or even the TV screen) making watching our programmes ever more entertaining.

BBC Red Button and BBC Connected Red Button

Our traditional Red Button service attracts 13 million viewers a week (this includes content from Sport and News). Red Button content is incredibly popular with audiences given its proximity to broadcast, the fact it’s easy to access and the content either elegantly enhances the programme being watched or, post the programme, delivers on audience needs, interests and passions inspired during the show.

In November 2012 we launched BBC Connected Red Button on Virgin TiVo. This is the first glimpse of how we’re seamlessly bringing together our broadcast and online portfolio for audiences in a connected world, offering a much deeper, richer, BBC Television experience than ever before.  

Content Aspirations

We want to maximise the discovery and enjoyment of all our programmes using our digital platforms. We selectively commission high quality, ambitious and distinctive Red Button and Online content related to our programmes that enables the audience to enjoy the story, format or event in ways that creatively go beyond broadcast television. This could be by offering extended coverage of an event opening up the fictional story-world to allow for exploration, offering exclusive backstage access, or social and play-along experiences that enable the audience at home to join in and connect with others.

We also commission online exclusive content for BBC Three that showcases new UK talent and explores new forms of storytelling. (More information in the Comedy and Drama sections below).


voice predictor

Our primary focus is Saturday night BBC One and we’re excited by ideas that use Online and Red Button content to bring the nation together, that really appeal to broad audiences, making shows as big and inclusive as they can be. 

For high end studio based shows and events eg The Voice, Strictly Come Dancing and Children in Need, we want to use Online and Red Button to offer audiences unique backstage access, to connect them to the stories as they break and provide a platform for audiences to express their opinions and be heard. Social media is critical to this, but for us to host social it needs to play a distinctive role in the format that rewards audiences in a compelling way. We’re particularly interested in investing in formats that use live streaming (Online or via Red Button) to create Entertainment events outside the broadcast programme that amplify appointment to view. This could be by opening up the auditioning or recruitment process. We also want to offer audiences at home the opportunity to influence and drive the onscreen action via free online voting.

We’re as passionate about social in the living room, as in the virtual world. Where the format fits, we’d like to offer play-along experiences across the full range of our Entertainment shows from In it To Win It and The Voice on BBC One, to Unzipped on BBC Three, and Only Connect on BBC Four, offering viewers at home the opportunity to find out how they fare against family and friends, contestants in the studio or the rest of the nation.

We also want to pilot bold and inventive new forms of entertainment for BBC Three as part of our online pilots initiative for the channel. Impractical Jokers was part of our first online pilots’ season and has been commissioned to go to series on TV.

For linear network TV ideas for entertainment please visit the Entertainment commissioning page


people just do nothing

Our focus is BBC Three and Comedy Feeds for BBC iPlayer - bold, experimental long-form pilots which push the boundaries for Comedy as a genre, creatively exploit the online platform and showcase new UK talent (both on and off screen). Our first season of BBC Three Comedy Feeds exclusive to BBC iPlayer attracted one million requests in 10 days. One pilot – People Just Do Nothing – was the most shared content in BBC iPlayer in July 2012, demonstrating how powerful BBC iPlayer is becoming as a creative platform to pioneer new forms of content and showcase new talent.

Comedy Feeds for BBC iPlayer are the perfect place for us to develop exciting new performers who have the potential to breakthrough on BBC Three. And they’re also a chance for us to unearth new people behind the scenes – new Writers, new Producers, new Directors and new production companies. We’re looking for ideas that have the potential to be full BBC Three Comedy or Entertainment TV series. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Narrative Comedy, sketch show, hidden camera, Comedy Entertainment format, but surprise and risk are critical.

We are particularly keen to use Comedy Feeds to improve diversity both in front of and behind the camera. We really want to find voices that reach out to communities underserved by current BBC Three content.

Finding and nurturing new talent is the creative life blood of BBC Three and we want to give new comedy performers a platform by creating live comedy events Online or Red Button where they can showcase their talents eg Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

For linear network TV ideas for Comedy please visit the Comedy commissioning page.


Dr Who - The Last Day of the Ponds

We want to drive further impact and engagement in our original British drama, using Online and Red Button platforms as a creative canvas for story telling, developing characters and exploring story-worlds from different perspectives.

We want to commission high quality, un-missable online prequels and mini episodes featuring key onscreen talent for our established or returning series that we can showcase on BBC iPlayer or on Red Button in the lead up to transmission one. Great examples include Last Days of the Ponds for Doctor Who and our character led prequels for Being Human. Prequels and minisodes work best as Entertainment content in their own right, with a compelling story arc and audience pay off (rather than as purely teaser content).

We’re also interested in additional episodes that build out from key storylines across our continuing Drama series. These work particularly well on Red Button where we can schedule the content effectively around the programme to create an event on the channel eg for EastEnders we offered an exclusive episode around the Olympic Torch coming to Walford story line, featuring Billy Mitchell and for Casualty, our Red Button episode Under Fire gave us unique insight into the past life of character Sam Nicholls in Afghanistan as she faced General Medical trial in the main TV show.

For BBC Three, we have introduced a Drama strand exclusively for BBC iPlayer. The strand comprises three short films per year, written and directed by upcoming UK talent and explores dramatic storytelling outside the linear broadcast slot. The Drama strand is being produced by BBC Drama Productions. For further information please email Oliver Grieve.

For linear network TV ideas for Drama please visit the Drama commissioning page.


BBC4 Collections - LondonWe want to commission Red Button content around Factual programme events such as Autumnwatch, the Chelsea Flower Show and Trooping The Colour to increase their scale and ambition and offer audiences access to the fullness of the event, beyond broadcast.

Our ambition for online ideas related to Factual programmes is to unlock their learning potential (both formal and informal) for all audiences. Online ideas are funded and realised through the BBC's Knowledge and Learning product.

For BBC Four we’re looking to drive impact and enrich seasons of programmes on the channel with exclusive online archive collections. Collections comprise around 20 programmes that have been specifically selected from our TV archive to offer imaginative and differing perspectives on the given season subject. We want to cast profile talent with a passion for the subject area to introduce collections and drive their visibility and impact. By way of example, we have launched: Army, All American, Talk and London collections which have been curated by Mark Urban, Adam Curtis, Michael Parkinson and Simon Jenkins respectively. Given these collections are permanently available, they continue to attract an audience to BBC Four online well beyond the broadcast season. To date, BBC Four collections have secured two million culmulative requests.

For linear network TV ideas for Factual please visit the relevant genre commissioning page.


The tone of Online and Red Button commissions needs to be consistent or complementary to the related programme and/or channel. Content related to a programme may take a distinct tone, for example the tone of online or social media content may be more informal or playful than the main TV programme, and this will be agreed as part of the overall programme commission.

Our Audience

Online and Red Button content appeals to more committed viewers or fans of our biggest and best known programmes and to audiences who want to actively seek out entertainment that appeals to their passions.

We want to drive big, mainstream audiences online, as well as appeal to early adopters, so are looking to commission a range of content across our portfolio.

Submitting Ideas

Online and Red Button content ideas for Comedy, Drama and Entertainment should be pitched via e-commissioning to the relevant genre.

Online content ideas for Factual programmes should be submitted through Learning.

Find out more about the BBC’s approach to social media relating to BBC Programmes.

Find out more about commercial activity on BBC Programme Pages. 

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