Profile for Russ (U2360818) permalink

Listed below are comments made by Russ between Thursday, 27th March 2014 and Tuesday, 24th June 2014

You can also view a list of Russ's posts.

  • Feedback_-_A_BBC_funded_by_subscription?

    10:05am on 24 Jun 2014

    BBC Radio costs £670m, or approx 20% of total licence fee income (£3.6bn). There are approximately 25m BBC licences in the UK - if every household paid for Radio, a Radio licence would therefore be about £30. The financing problem for a subscription model is that not all households would take up a Radio licence. If 50% of current households did, that general Radio licence would become £60. If the granularity is taken further, as in a Forget It's 'R3+R4+R4X only' licence, the takeup would be smaller (8m? less?), so such a licence would become correspondingly more expensive. Although cherry-picking PAYG is a superficially attractive way of demonstrating a democratic opinion on what should be broadcast, ultimately it penalises niche audiences severely. A R3-only licence for example would be £20 for its current 2m listeners. BBC local radio would be immediately uneconomic.

    The biggest fallacy of the PAYG idea is thinking you would be given a choice on what might be offered. The BBC will never offer the PAYG model for Radio - it simply isn't geared up for that kind of differentiation, and the majority of radio receivers couldn't cope with it anyway. Besides which, the encryption and administration costs would be horrendous.

    Russ

  • Announcing_the_UX&D_roster

    10:50pm on 19 Jun 2014

    My heart sinks.

    With IPTV, iPlayer and iPlayer Radio having undergone major revamps recently, I would have thought that the 'UX&D' part of that process would have been substantially completed before launch of those products. Or perhaps the "extensive user testing" reported to have taken place wasn't so extensive as we were led to believe? It now appears that the UX&D stage is merely another beginning. Exactly what are the objectives being set for these design teams? Performing the testing the BBC should have carried out ages ago? Or is the 'roster' nothing more than an institutionalised way of gobbling up licence fee money?

    In order to validate their juicy contracts, it will be inevitable the agencies will want to introduce as much change as possible. The likelihood of any of these parties producing a report saying "Nothing much needs to be done" is zilch.

    The division in the roster between iPlayer and iPlayer Radio does not inspire confidence that any residual consistency of those products will remain.

    Un-Expected Disaster? More like Totally Expected Disaster.

    Russ

  • Standard_Media_Player

    2:30pm on 09 Jun 2014

    Are there any plans to give RadioPlayer the same volume control as iPlayer, or is that battle long lost?

    Russ

  • Standard_Media_Player

    2:26pm on 09 Jun 2014

    On iPlayer's SMP, the progress bar has a white marker/slider. This white slider is always visible. On RadioPlayer, the popout version of iPlayer Radio, the white slider is visible only when a mouse is hovered over the progress bar. The disappearance of the white slider occurred about a week or so ago. (I'm Chrome 35 on a PC.)

    Is this inconsistency intentional?

    Russ

  • New_BBC_iPlayer_for_TVs_out_of_preview

    12:39pm on 05 Jun 2014

    DBOne - thanks, see what you mean - a proportion of the 6% live radio TV slice will not be impacted because users will be able to find live radio elsewhere on the Freeview, Freesat or Cable EPGs. (Although I don't think Freeview carries all the BBC radio channels, at least mine doesn't, being a Virgin version of Freeview.) On Virgin, the BBC provides an 'iPlayer' bespoke overlay signal, but the interface looks nothing like any connected version of iPlayer, and it has never carried any radio for example. It's a simple interface, but, to its credit, works quite well.

    So yes, for live listening on TVs, we are talking about a percentage of a percentage, but my purpose in my comments here, from an amateur perspective, was to try to start to put some actual figures on the matter. I hope I have also shown the catchup percentage was not significantly different on TVs to that on other devices.

    I'm sure the BBC has more accurate figures, but it begs the question on why it chose not give a more complete picture in its evasive defence of deleting radio from TVIP, viz the irate comments here. I applaud the BBC's efforts in getting the number of its codebases down, but I'm therefore stumped on the BBC's desire in wanting to introduce further bespoke radio interfaces/apps for a growing multiplicity of connected TVs. Someone enlighten me, please!

    And what of the forthcoming 'Freeview Connect' deal, announced today. How will radio feature in that?

    Russ

  • New_BBC_iPlayer_for_TVs_out_of_preview

    00:38am on 05 Jun 2014

    #70 - sorry, DBOne, I don't understand what you mean by an 'unconnected' TV.

    Russ

  • New_BBC_iPlayer_for_TVs_out_of_preview

    3:02pm on 04 Jun 2014

    Re #66, for context, I should have added that TV's 6% share of live radio represents 34m BBC radio hours per week.

    Russ

  • New_BBC_iPlayer_for_TVs_out_of_preview

    2:08pm on 04 Jun 2014

    I can update my #62 with a few more facts. A MIDAS Survey conducted by Ipsos Mori for RAJAR in November 2013 indicates the catchup radio share of total listening to be 1.5%, and I think we can thus take this value to be the current definitive one *.

    For live radio listening, dominated by steam AM/FM and DAB of course, TVs have a 6% share **. Still 'low usage' some of you may think, but the point is that TVs dominate the internet-connected devices (desk/laptop, smartphone, etc) for live listening. They dominate for social reasons (family listening) and because of superior sound quality, as many other commenters here have noted. (For catchup listening, desktops still rule, at nearly 50% device share.)

    The above figures are courtesy of RAJAR/IpsosMori.

    But here's the thing - whilst catchup listening (the 1.5% of total) via TVs (6% of device share) is indeed 'low usage' in anyone's book, in deleting all radio from TVIP, the BBC has succeeded in jeopardising the far more important 6%. The baby has been thrown out with the bathwater.

    Although it's no solace to those who have spent lots of money on expensive new TVs only to find they don't have the full monty iPlayer Radio anymore, I would suggest the BBC's best way forward is to incorporate a basic live-only radio bolt-on to TVIP. That would at least go some way to safeguarding the 6% share.

    Russ

    * If podcasts are taken into account, this value is probably in the region of 2.8%, but given that podcasts are available only via an internet-connected device, we should probably stick to the 1.5% value for the purposes of this blog's 'TV' debate.

    ** 6% for adults. Somewhat lower (4%) for 15-24 year olds.

  • New_BBC_iPlayer:_comments_round_up

    2:00pm on 03 Jun 2014

    It all goes to prove the original 2010 decision to separate radio from TV in iPlayer was fundamentally unsound. The resulting train crash was inevitable, and the cleanup is proving to be expensive or beyond the BBC's reach.

    Russ

  • new_iPlayer:_preview_feedback_and_live_launch

    12:20pm on 03 Jun 2014

    Why are the credits for a programme launched on a new page? Isn't this information users would want to see when watching the playback?

    Russ

  • New_BBC_iPlayer_for_TVs_out_of_preview

    1:56pm on 02 Jun 2014

    Concerning the deletion of radio from IPTV, I do think BBC could do itself a favour and be far less coy about its actual online radio listening figures.

    As of 2 years ago the overall BBC monthly radio catchup stream requests were approx 11m, whilst the monthly live stream requests were 34m - the catchup stream requests were therefore approx 24% of the overall online total. This proportion varied widely according to station, with R4 catchup streams representing approx 40% of the total R4 streams, and R4X catchup steams being double the amount of R4X live streams. Unfortunately, the BBC no longer publish per-station online radio results. As of March 2014 (from the iPlayer monthly performance pack), the proportion of radio catchup requests has dropped slightly to 21%, but the monthly performance pack does not differentiate between catchup and live in the device type breakdown, and those are the figures we need to assess this 'platform' debate.

    2 years ago, the weekly reach for BBC online radio was 5.3m, compared to the contemporary RAJAR figure of 34.4m weekly reach for both online plus 'steam' radio. The RAJAR figures are for live listening only of course, whilst the BBC online figure is for both online and catchup, so a comparison between the timeshifted and non-timeshifted sets of figures is problematic. Nevertheless, for overall BBC radio listening, the amount (hours) of timeshifted listening was thought to be (by Alison Winter of the BBC) approximately 1% of the total live listening at that time. Again, this percentage value varies by networks, and rises to somewhere nearer to 5% for speech stations like R4. The percentage for R4X is undoubtedly a lot higher. More recent figures, assuming that total radio hours and total radio requests are linked (!!!) would indicate a total BBC timeshift listening to be in the region of 1.3% of all listening. Podcasts add to this value, and make it more complex. (My thanks to James Cridland for the 1.3% estimate.)

    This approximately 1.3% timeshift to non-timeshift percentage is what I think lies at the basis of Andrew Scott's (#49) report of "consistently very low", and would appear to be consistent with Marcus Pawnwell's report (#45) of "radio usage on TVs made up 1% of the total radio usage across devices". However, if that is the actual case, one could conclude that the percentage of catchup radio listening on TVs is of the same magnitude as catchup listening on non-TV devices. Marcus Pawnwell's assertion (in this blog introduction) of "TVs are not a significant way that people are using to listen to on-demand radio content", whilst true, is rather misleading in that the figure indicates the TV slice is not significantly different to the non-TV slice.

    In other words, if the BBC defends its deletion of radio from IPTV because of the "low usage", it would be consistent to delete all iPlayer Radio from all devices. The strategic differentiation between TV and non-TV devices for catchup radio on the basis of usage doesn't really stack up; it's a smokescreen in my view. The real problem would seem to be the lack of standardisation of the user navigation interfaces on TVs, and not just the 'smart' ones. The devil is in the detail of these user navigation interfaces, and the BBC really doesn't help itself by regularly changing the interface and wanting to introduce new bells and whistles all the time. Why should the TV manufacturers be sufficiently motivated to cater for the complexity of the kind of user interface the BBC and its users want/expect?

    'course, if all TVs came with an old-fashioned pointy thing like a mouse, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in right now...

    Russ

  • new_iPlayer:_preview_feedback_and_live_launch

    9:19pm on 16 May 2014

    I hope the black ground fetish doesn't spread too far. The TV guide page (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/guide) now looks awful.

    Russ

  • new_iPlayer:_preview_feedback_and_live_launch

    9:07pm on 16 May 2014

    The 'adding favourites' is present on schedules, genre listings and individual programme pages for Radio items, so it's interesting to read of the BBC's prevarication over the implementation of the TV favourites function(s). I wasn't surprised to read about the failure to port the favourites function from the old system, and it parallels the late discovery (after product release!) of an equivalent botched, and ultimately aborted, attempt for Radio items. In TV land, the favourites mechanism seems to be significantly different from Radio, with no differentiation evident between strand and episode. Arguably, this slightly simpler TV approach makes more sense. On Radio, there is currently a complete dog's dinner of approach, and the downside of favouriting episodes (in either the Radio, and it would now seem, the TV system) is that the episodes list gets filled up with items no longer available to play. I honestly can't see the point of presenting, within the strict context of iPlayer favourites pages, swathes of programmes no longer available, so I can understand, to a degree, the BBC's caution in trying to work out what the overall strategy should be in this early beta iPlayer TV release in the context of server demand and capacity. And the conundrum will only exacerbate when the current 7-day window gets extended to 30.

    In my view, information on past programmes no longer available should be accessible only via programme strand or guide pages. Therein lies the problem for TV, which doesn't, in general, have strand or guide pages. And where they do exist, they are difficult to find.

    I've long ceased hoping for any coherent clear strategic direction for any FMT products.

    Russ

  • new_iPlayer:_preview_feedback_and_live_launch

    1:00pm on 13 May 2014

    Much of the functionality of the new interface comes from knowing what the unexplained 3-bar dropdown thingie does. The least you could do is put an alt tag on it.

    Russ

  • new_iPlayer:_preview_feedback_and_live_launch

    12:44pm on 13 May 2014

    I note the bug in the radio system where the 'find a programme' box moves the page up as soon as the cursor is placed in it* has been solved/corrected in the new TV version. Could the iPlayer TV people liaise with the iPlayer Radio people, please?

    Russ

    * http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/internet/posts/New-version-of-radio-homepage-launched?postId=118532974#comment_118532974

  • new_iPlayer:_preview_feedback_and_live_launch

    12:19pm on 13 May 2014

    It would be nice to see the favourites button without having to hit the 3-bar dropdown thingie. (Which would also be consistent with the iPlayer Radio approach.)

    Russ

  • new_iPlayer:_preview_feedback_and_live_launch

    12:15pm on 13 May 2014

    On the station schedule pages, it would be nice to have chevrons to previous and following weeks, or an equivalent calendar function. (As per many of the radio stations.)

    Russ

  • new_iPlayer:_preview_feedback_and_live_launch

    12:10pm on 13 May 2014

    On the individual station homepages, it took me a while to spot the schedule link, and I think this should be made more prominent.

    Russ

  • The_Beach_of_Falesa,_a_film_for_voices_by_Dylan_Thomas

    11:02am on 07 May 2014

    With an old-fashioned narrator, it's difficult to imagine this now as a film, but it worked exceptionally well on radio, where the narrator enhances the inherent intimacy of the medium. This was a great production, very evocative of a doomed colonial backwater, with some terrific performances. The music was restrained but inspired.

    Any chance of the script being placed in the Writersroom script archive?

    Russ

  • BBC_iPlayer_Radio_update

    4:31pm on 06 Apr 2014

    I understand iPlayerRadio is now "investigating a fix" for remembering the volume control setting on the v3 console. (You're right, D-row, it was implemented correctly on the previous v2 console.)

    Russ

  • BBC_iPlayer_Radio_update

    3:08pm on 06 Apr 2014

    In partial response to #29, live radio listening is no longer under the control of the BBC. That control is now the exclusive territory of Radioplayer, in which the BBC is only a partner.

    Russ

  • BBC_iPlayer_Radio_update

    1:40pm on 04 Apr 2014

    The inclusion of the final exclamation mark in the following bit of the console code seems to be incorrect, and results in the opening html tag not being recognised properly:

    {!--[if !IE]}{!--}

    The original code won't transcribe here of course, so I've used { instead of a left-chevron and } instead of a right-chevron.

    Browsers are generally tolerant of invalid code, but "every little bit helps" as they say.

    Russ

  • BBC_iPlayer_Radio_update

    01:07am on 28 Mar 2014

    The search function remains as mysterious as ever. On the now-closed blog of a month ago 'BBC iPlayer Radio: your feedback', there were several queries on the search function. I had previously understood that episode searching had now been turned on (comment #216), but it appears to have been turned off again, at least from some search places - on the radio homepage, the 'find a programme' box still fails to find episode titles, whereas the BBC title bar search box and the search box on the console do pick them up. Aren't these various search systems supposed to respond in a harmonized way now, or are there still spanners in the works?

    (The above is in respect of the desktop system and console. I can't comment on the app version, which may have a completely different set of spanners in its works.)

    Russ

  • BBC_iPlayer_Radio_update

    00:40am on 28 Mar 2014

    On the console, having done a search, there is a useful left-facing chevron to go back (to the original programme being played). However, if selecting the searched item, there is then no chevron and no way back. Would such a further chevron involve too much cacheing?

    Russ

  • BBC_iPlayer_Radio_update

    11:59pm on 27 Mar 2014

    I hate the new console volume control. It's not what I would consider 'responsive'.

    Like Nigel Tufnell, I like my controls to be old-fashioned and go all the way up to 11.

    Russ

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