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BBC Sport App on Connected TVs: launches on TiVo

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Aaron Scullion | 10:28 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Mock-up of the new BBC Sport App for Connected TVs, showing live Formula 1 coverage

In my role as Executive Product Manager in BBC Future Media, I'm responsible for launching and developing BBC products - such as News and Sport - on Connected TV.

It’s a hugely exciting time to be working on such products, with the Olympics on the horizon. They are set to be the first truly digital Games and last week Roger Mosey announced that 2,500 hours of live Olympics coverage will be available in HD, via BBC Red Button and 24 dedicated channels.

My main focus for the past year has been working out how we would also make this content – which will also be available on the BBC Sport website - available on internet-connected TVs.

As such, I'm pleased to announce that today we have launched the BBC Sport app for connected TVs, enabling audiences to access the BBC’s interactive coverage of major sporting events via the BBC Red Button.

The BBC’s Red Button service has been important to BBC Sport ever since the first experiments with multi-court coverage of Wimbledon. Since then interactive TV coverage of sport has expanded to events such as the World Cup, Six Nations and the Olympics. The new BBC Sport service builds on that legacy and adds new features and options, including true on-demand video clips for the first time.

At first, the app will be available via the red button on the Virgin Media TiVo platform. This brings the service into over 500,000 homes, and provides Virgin Media TiVo viewers with access to a BBC Red Button service for the first time. Later in the year, a wider range of devices will offer the service - more details to follow.

A BBC Sport branded screen. A large F1 video player to the right; several smaller archive ones to the left.

Mock-up of the new BBC Sport App for Connected TVs, showing how the app will look between live events

Right now the application focuses on Formula 1. At any time you can watch key moments from recent races in video, as well as the entirety of the BBC’s live F1 coverage. This includes full coverage of the practice sessions (which are not broadcast on BBC One), simulcasts of qualifying heats, together with multi-feed coverage of the race itself (including our on-board camera and ‘driver tracker’ options). The BBC’s coverage of the F1 season begins on Friday 13th April.

The video walkthrough below, presented by F1 presenter Jake Humphrey, provides a quick demo of what the service has to offer.

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For fans of other sports, more coverage of this year's major events - Euro 2012, Wimbledon and of course, the Olympics - will be added. More details of coverage of those events will be published on this blog nearer the time.

I'm also pleased to announce that today the BBC News connected TV service (that I blogged about before) becomes available to Virgin Media TiVo homes for the first time. The service makes up-to-date video news reports available to viewers 24 hours a day, together with a full range of text articles from the BBC News website.

The BBC News and Sport apps will continue to be made available on other connected TV devices, and as mentioned above, Sport in particular will be launching on a wide number of devices in advance of the Olympics. More details will follow later in the year.

For now, I’d be delighted to hear feedback on either the BBC News or Sport applications, and will aim to answer questions later in the week.

Aaron Scullion is Executive Product Manager, BBC Future Media

Update Jul 25 2012

I wanted to update this post to let you know that the BBC Sport application is now available on the following devices:

  • Panasonic 2011 and 2012 TVs
  • Samsung 2011 TVs (6000 series and upwards)
  • Samsung 2012 TVs
  • Sony 2012 TVs
  • Sony Playstation 3
  • Virgin Tivo

HD-quality coverage of the Olympics Games will be available on all devices, if you have a high-speed broadband connection.  


  • Comment number 1.

    Although I understand that you might not say details of exactly which internet-connected TVs will get these apps, how broad is the goal - are you aiming to see them on (some) games consoles like the iPlayer on TV?

  • Comment number 2.

    I have a Phillips TV from 2010. Can you tell me if Phillips Net TV/Mart TV is included, and if so: is this only for the 2011/2012 models, or also for the 2010 models.

  • Comment number 3.

    Except, Red Button on TiVo still invokes iPlayer today.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Robert - I am advised that it can take 24 hours for the new service to be made available on all TiVo boxes nationwide. In some cases a reboot may accelerate the process.

  • Comment number 5.

    Coming as an iPad app too...?

  • Comment number 6.

    After a quick look, it looks pretty good. Of the two, I think I prefer the sport. At the minute just F1, but looks like you might have a top level navigation across the top?

    If you're watching a video, you can call up the rest, but scroll across the current four, before the next four scroll into view. Which I think works better than the news video, where you scroll one at a time, and the left most one is the currently selected one. Not sure if there were two design teams, but consistency in use is always good.

    Plus, a top row for navigation might work better then the drop down - a bit more in keeping with the website, and more intuitive to find, if there was a way of it being there initially, before automatically hiding from view if not in use?

    And on the news text , scrolling a page at a time might be better than just four lines. Also not sure you need the video layer under a text story - maybe make the pages more interesting with an image or two.

    Having said all that, of the various incarnations of this sort of thing, this looks about the best I've seen, and does a pretty good job of bringing web content to the tv.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well done on getting it out to TiVo finally anyway. What a pain of a box it must be.

  • Comment number 8.

    This app, and the news one, look great. Will these be available on things like roku boxes? I have a Roku, and iPlayer is great, but it would be even better if live content and interactive services like this were available.

  • Comment number 9.

    Still don't get how they choose TiVo app to launch ahead of an universal iOS app for bbc sport.

  • Comment number 10.


    So that's, what, seven out of nine comments so far asking about platform support? Imagine that years ago the BBC announced that BBC 1 was coming to Philips sets, or that colour would be rolled out to Radio Rentals customers first - it would have been a nonsense then and it's still a nonsense now.

    Define some standards, let everyone interoperate with them, offer the same service to everyone. This isn't a difficult concept to grasp, and it's not like you haven't done it before. This is a mess, and you all ought to be very embarrassed.

  • Comment number 11.

    I have to 2 questions about the BBC Sport app.

    Do you have a timeline when you are going to add text articles , football live scores , football results , football league tables , football fixtures , horse racing results etc ? basically what is on the BBC Sport website.

    Will the snooker world championships be on the BBC Sport app ?

  • Comment number 12.

    @10 Epic fail by the old duffers on the Competition Commission in killing Kangaroo. No doubt the so-called 'great and good' were still baffled setting the clock on their VHS.

  • Comment number 13.

    This is great.

    The BBC iPlayer app is already available on the Boxee Box device. Hopefully the Sport and News app will also launch for the Boxee Box.

  • Comment number 14.


    The electromagnetic spectrum that is used to transmit signals from station to TV is a universal constant and the re-invention of this spectrum is thankfully not something the BBC has ever had to contend with.

    On the other hand, device manufacturers are free to mix and match the software that is installed on their ever-changing devices in order to pursue whatever goal or objective they may have. Contrary to your apparent beliefs the BBC is not in a position to dictate these choices - and this wouldn't be the BBC's intended role anyway, even if it was in such a position.

    With new devices released all the time, each with new software on different firmware on different hardware, content suppliers like the BBC are presented with a target that is constantly moving so I think it's a wonder such services are delivered at all.

    Should you wish to take it upon yourself to convince companies like Samsung, Panasonic, Hitachi, LG, Sony, JVC, Sharp, Toshiba, Apple and Microsoft to all adapt to a single standard and a single technology so that content like this can be released on all devices simultaneously, I will be right behind you.

  • Comment number 15.

    Why are the BBC wasting their money on this?
    Not sure connected Tvs are taking off as said earlier all the differeing formats etc, and recent bbc articles and bbc click team certainly have not praised it.
    BBC have all but ditched F1 to Sky, who are doing a fantastic coverage, red button and ios app job etc. Leave them to it and spend our money more wisely.
    Must admit that this does not look ground breaking, perhaps Ive missed something.
    As for the olympics, yawn!

  • Comment number 16.

    "On the other hand, device manufacturers are free to mix and match the software that is installed on their ever-changing devices in order to pursue whatever goal or objective they may have."

    They're equally free to deliver a device that doesn't understand PAL, or that has circular HDMI connectors, or that doesn't process MHEG, but they don't. The objective of a TV manufacturer is to (at a minimum) receive what the broadcasters put out, in the same way that the objective of someone making a Blu-ray or DVD player is to read standard format Blu-ray or DVD discs, not to go and build something different all of their own.

    "Contrary to your apparent beliefs the BBC is not in a position to dictate these choices - and this wouldn't be the BBC's intended role anyway, even if it was in such a position."

    The definition of technical standards is absolutely part of the BBC's role, and one that it's mostly pretty good at. As I said, this isn't something they haven't done before.

  • Comment number 17.

    @16 The BBC tried to establish a UK standard for IPTV twice.

    Project Kangeroo. It was established by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. The Competiton Commission stopped it as it would have 'hurt competition'.

    The current attempt at a standard - YouView - has also been criticised by Sky and Virgin for its effect on the competitive market and as an abuse of the license fee but is due to be launched later this year.

  • Comment number 18.

    Just tried out the app on Tivo through red button and I think it is very good. I like the layout, and aesthetically it is great. As this is Britain, I think you should do a weather section also! :)
    Anyhow, thought I would comment on what I thought of your new service, rather than the usual politically inspired hate posts that all open forums seem to attract now - rather spoiling the point of having them.

  • Comment number 19.

    Will an option for regional news be made avaiable as is the case with freeview? Would also like to see financial market data as well.

  • Comment number 20.

    I would love to hear of the plans for support on Boxee platforms (whether the Boxee Box, the Iomega Boxee, or the Boxee PC Download.)

  • Comment number 21.

    Add support for the Boxee Box pls.

  • Comment number 22.

    The app says to use the "back" button to exit when on the menu selecting between iplayer, sport and news. There is no back button on TiVO.

    Also once you have selected sport there is no way back to the menu. Don't know if there is anywhere to report these bugs properly.

    Works well overall though.

  • Comment number 23.

    Mog0 There is a back button on TiVo , It is above the red button.

  • Comment number 24.

    Looks like the 2012 F1 season will have only 10 races for me. The BBC coverage is simply the best.
    Would be great to see BBC F1 on the Apple TV.

  • Comment number 25.

    Aaron, I just came across an interesting article on using facebook for breaking news. Judging by the interactivity that may be possible in future with Connect TV I think this could even be more revolutionary. After all, the logical extension would be then to have interactive broadcasts via mobile phones. Forget about facebook, I believe the BBC is jumping ahead into the future with this initiative. Looking forward to seeing more of the same!

  • Comment number 26.

    While it is some progress that the missing functions on the Tivo red button are slowly being addressed, the latest features are still short of the functionality of the red button on most systems.

    The TV programme you are watching is hidden while you are reading the news, unlike most red buttons where you still get the sound and a small picture. The only way of reading the news while watching the programme is to switch back to Freeview. This is the facility that I use most on the red button and seems a glaring ommission and a result of focussing on the video streams features. The technology must be there on the Tivo box as the TV is still viewed when the red button is first pressed and the menu is displayed.

    There are some other missing features including:
    Local news
    Sports results and tables

    So at the moment quite a dissapointment. Hopefully all of these features will be added in the near future including the ability to read the news while watching a TV programme. Even the cheapest Freeview boxes allow you to do this.

    BBC currently has an advantage over other channels on other platforms as it is the only channel delivering a text service so that you can read news while you watch TV.

  • Comment number 27.

    I agree. I am dissapointed. I used to use digital text a lot, for the city news, Weather and entertainment. None of this is available. Why do i need to look at 8 different news stories. Why not put them all on one channel and loop them. I might go back to sky. Why has this only changed on Virgin. are you delibaretly trying to make people go back to sky

  • Comment number 28.

    Very impressed by both new apps, well done BBC!. Looking forward to the Wimbledon coverage in particular. The news app is good because it gives text as well a video updates. Any news of these coming to the iPad?

  • Comment number 29.

    Ok, I know you are the 'connected TV' guy but why on earth was this capability for blending sports data and media (in particular the F1 aspect) not developed for the web first. I'm sure Virgin have thrown some cash into the pot as it will no doubt benefit them. The current BBC F1 offering is rather pale in comparison with Sky.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi all

    Sorry for the delay in replying to comments.

    A couple of you have asked about which devices will support this app. I'm not in a position to say any more at the moment but more announcements will follow soon.

    Thanks to talisker71 (#6) for the positive feedback above. I completely agree that consistency in design is desirable across apps - between the work to design the News and Sport app we learned some new things about what works better on these devices. The knowledge we've picked up from the Sport project will likely be worked into the News product at some point in the future.

    Martin (#11) - I'm sorry to say that the Snooker World Championships are not being covered in this app this year, but more events will be added in future.

    JC (#18) - we agree and aim to add Weather content at a future date. Likewise with regional news jamesmw16 (#19), though you should find that there is text news available for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in the News app. John (#27) - you should find that Entertainment news is available in the News app.

    Thanks to all for your interest and feedback.


  • Comment number 31.

    The only problem is with the Virgin TiVo is now you can't watch anything else on the red button like we used to be able to. So no World Championship snooker. That really sucks considering how much I pay Virgin AND the BBC.

  • Comment number 32.

    I guess that's how it goes Aaron - subsequent iterations change from previous ones.

    It would be good to see the news app adopt some of the sport app's look.

    With the news app's text stories, it would be good to see better use of the screen. The iPad app is much better in this regard. The stories are much easier to access - with all the available space, it doesn't seem ideal to have them hidden away. It seems bad design for the default view on launch to not display the menu. It relies on the user to go looking for it.

    What would be much better might be to ape the sport / F1 - have a video wall like you do with all the F1 videos, and the ability to move to a second screen off to the right to find the text stories. And for that part to be more like the iPad app.

  • Comment number 33.

    I have to say that I am very disappointed in the new Red Button services on my TiVo box. For years I have used the Red Button service to watch sports and music events, while my wife watches additional programme content such as mini episodes linked to Casualty. These are, in my opinion, one of the most basic services on the ref button. Quite often you hear presenters saying press the Red Button for additional streams/content, yet I cannot access these.

    I am a huge rugby fan and regularly watched games on the red button. This season I have been unable to do this since switching to a TiVo box and have to resort to watching this content online now. The most annoying things about this is that all other platforms offer these streams - Sky, other Virgin Media platforms, FreeSat, Freeview - yet the supposed most powerful way of watching TV does not offer this. Surely there should be a way of accessing these streams on a TiVo box (even if it is similar to watching channel 301/303 on Freeview.

    When will I be able to access these additional streams on my TiVo box? Over the coming weeks alone I will be missing out on snooker, MotoGP, football, rugby league, rugby union, hockey, equestrian, triathlon and athletics - this information coming from the BBC website on the 'Sport on the Red Button' service. I have already told Virgin that they have lost a customer of 10 years over this.

  • Comment number 34.

    I was disappointed that LG 2012 Smart TVs have been left out of the party AGAIN... meaning I've got to fork out MORE as a Freeview user on a Freesat receiver or summat - so I can enjoy more of the Olympics.

    PLEASE throw your weight in behind the Smart TV Alliance as well as porting the Sport app onto LG kit in time for the Commonwealth Games etc..

    SOMEDAY we'll get this right...

  • Comment number 35.

    When can I expect the BBC sport and news app for the Phillips Smart/Net TV's please? Seems certain brands only get these apps?

  • Comment number 36.

    Who actually writes these apps? BBC software developers? or - more likely - the equipment manufacturers own software people working to a BBC specification? There doesn't seem to be much point complaining about other people's apps here.

  • Comment number 37.

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