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24 September 2014
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BBC's Red Button celebrates its 10th anniversary

It has been 10 years since the BBC launched its first pilot of the Red Button in the UK.


From this, the service has evolved and become hugely popular, with an average of 11 million people using it a week.


It has allowed the BBC to provide audiences with access to the latest news, weather and other general information, while also enabling the delivery of an enhanced experience across major sporting and entertainment events.


To mark the first decade, an array of content is to be launched across the service.


The commitment to sport continues with the recently launched multi-screen offering viewer's coverage of live snooker, highlights from the Rugby League World Cup in Australia and live statistics complementing BBC Radio 5 Live commentary as England's cricketers tour India.


EastEnders fans will be invited to test their knowledge of some of the show's greatest whodunits, while Mr Smith from The Sarah Jane Adventures will be asking younger viewers if they possess super-human intelligence.


Bob The Builder is in fine voice and will be looking for like-minded pre-schoolers to join him in a spot of karaoke, while CBeebies favourites such as Roly Mo, Tikkabilla and Postman Pat will have a fresh game or story available every week.


Rahul Chakkara, Controller of TV Platforms for BBC Future Media and Digital, said: "From the initial development work conducted by the BBC Research and Innovation team, we launched the Red Button service to provide audiences with a more enhanced television experience.


"With the breakthrough innovation of our 2001 Wimbledon coverage, this redefined what was possible on the television screen.


"Since then, we have continued to experiment and bring fresh new ideas to our audience.


"The recent coverage of the Beijing Olympics and the interactive services we're offering with some of our most popular entertainment shows, like EastEnders, is testament to this."


In line with the anniversary of the service, the BBC asked a number of users what has been the best thing they have seen on the service recently.


One female viewer said: "Oasis at the Electric Proms – I didn't realise you could watch things like this through the Red Button!"


And a male viewer said: "The BBC's coverage of sporting events like the Olympics or Wimbledon. It gives me the freedom to watch what I want to watch."


It's seems that the broadcast industry agrees with the great British public.


Over the past 10 years, BBC's Red Button service has won more than 15 awards including four BAFTAas and an International Emmy for Best Interactive Service in 2007.


To see a demo of the Red Button in action, please visit


Notes to Editors


Source for research: BBC Audience Research.


From pre-historic beasts to state-of-the-art spying secrets, from the muddy fields of the nation's finest music festivals, to Team GB's triumphs in the Bird's Nest Stadium, Beijing, here are our top 10 Red Button highlights from the past 10 years:


1. Test The Nation, the UK's first truly interactive quiz, has been enabling digital viewers to play along with the studio audience 17 times since launching in 2002.


2. In 2002 the Chelsea Flower Show brought interactivity to a new audience and has been giving viewers a chance to get closer to the plant exhibits and take exclusive tours of show gardens every year since.


3. BBC Red Button has been offering unrivalled coverage of the country's best music events since 2003 giving viewers a choice of up to five performances from Glastonbury, T in the Park, Reading and Leeds, and the BBC Proms.


4. Reaching for the stars in 2004, BBC Red Button broadcast a live interview from an astronaut orbiting in the international space station – a first for interactive television.


5. In January 2004, BBC Northern Ireland staged its first ever interactive quiz – Would You Pass the Eleven Plus? They've since produced nearly 50 interactive programmes for the region.


6. Strictly Come Dancing's Len Goodman knows all the moves and in 2005 he got behind the Red Button to teach viewers a different dance each week.


7. In May 2005 over half-a-million viewers pressed red to watch extended coverage and access up-to-the-minute results from the UK General Election.


8. Fans of Doctor Who have been accessing weekly episode commentaries from the likes of Russell T Davies and David Tennant since 2006.


9. In 2007 CBeebies favourites Charlie and Lola treated pre-school viewers to an exclusive premiere of a new song and gave them the chance sing along with Red Button karaoke lyrics.


10. Ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics BBC Red Button launched the new Sport Multiscreen. The service available around the clock offered viewers a choice of between one and six streams along with the familiar news, results and statistics.


Key milestones


Top Ten achievements from the last 10 years:


1. November 1998: First pilot of Digital Text services on TV.


2. 1998 onwards: Over £8million has been donated to BBC's Children in Need via the Red Button over the 10 years.


3. 2001: BAFTA awarded for the first multiscreen Red Button coverage of Wimbledon.


4. 2001: BAFTA, RTS and Electronic Multimedia Award (EMMA) won for BBC One's Walking with Beasts Interactive. Throughout the duration of the series viewers could access four screens and choose between watching additional footage such as the science behind the series and the making of and change the commentary if they wished.


5. 2002: Test The Nation awarded an EMMA and is Highly Commended at the Broadcast Awards the following year.


6. 2005: Red Button coverage of the Athens Olympics earns a BAFTA nomination and a RTS Sports Innovation award.


7. 2005: Spooks wins a BAFTA for Best Interactive Service, a D&AD award for Outstanding Achievement Enhanced TV and a Grand Prix and Best Game prizes at the Milia Awards.


8. 2007: AFDESI Award for Best Innovation & Design for Waking The Dead. Following the second part of the two-part films, Red Button viewers were transported behind the scenes and into the world of the cold case unit.


9. 2007: International Interactive Emmy award to BBC Red Button for Best Interactive Service.


10. 2008: Red Button launches the BBC iPlayer on Virgin Media.






Category: New Media
Date: 06.11.2008
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