Archives for June 2012

What's on BBC Red Button 30th June - 7th July

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Tess Foster Tess Foster | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 30 June 2012

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T in the Park


T in the Park

The UK's liveliest festival crowd and an iconic setting in rolling Scottish countryside always make T in the Park a huge spectacle. Viewers will be treated to extended coverage on Red Button - full sets and uninterrupted music from three stages at T, as well as tracks from some of the stars of the future performing for BBC Introducing.

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Launch of Live Interactive Video Player

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Alex Perry | 18:59 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012

The live, interactive video player combines HD video with cutting edge data to enhance your viewing

I want to tell you about a new live interactive video player that the BBC is launching for this summer's Olympics.

We rolled it out fully today after a period in beta testing when we were able to assess its performance and get your feedback.

As product manager for this player, I've been defining exactly how the finished product should function and what it should look like, working with colleagues from editorial, design and technical teams.

One of the main impetuses behind the project is the incredible video rights package that the BBC holds for London 2012.

The BBC is the sole rights holder for the Olympics in the UK and we are able to offer users live video from every venue on every day of the Games.

That means up to 24 different streams of live sporting action at any one time.

So we wanted to take this opportunity to build a video player that would offer the best possible desktop video viewing experience to do justice to that incredible breadth of live content and would also provide a lasting legacy to BBC Online and our audiences in the years to come.

That means making the video available in high definition and then enhancing it with some extra functionality that in terms of added choice, rivals anything you would have experienced before while watching sport on your TV.

The key features in the new player are:

• Every sport available live and on demand in HD quality on every day of the Games
• Easy switching between up to 24 live streams at any time
• The ability to pause and rewind live video or jump straight to key moments you may have missed by using chapter markers (eg the Men's 100m final)
• Alerts for the key events that have happened or are coming up so you don't miss the moments that matter to you
• Extra facts and info on the sports and competitors you are watching alongside the video

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Olympic Favourites

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Andrew Pipes Andrew Pipes | 13:14 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012

Hi I'm Andy Pipes, and I lead the product development for the Sport Olympics website. Today we're launching "Olympic favourites", a way to personalise your experience of the Olympic Games. With one click you can keep up to date with the latest news and stats from any athlete, country or olympic sports you're interested in. This blog post describes how it works.

The BBC Sport website will tell the story of this year's Olympic Games with over 10,000 pages of content about the events, countries and athletes taking part.

How do you keep on top of all the news, schedules and stats about the people and activities that interest you most when the occasion is in full swing?

We hope Favourites allows you to do just that.

When you're browsing the new Olympics web site, you will notice light grey "plus" symbols next to important names: athletes such as Rebecca Adlington, collections of events such as Table Tennis, specific events such as the Women's Pole Vault, and competing countries like Team GB.

These plus symbols are a way into a simple but smart bookmarking system.

Athletics / add to favourites

Roll over the plus symbol, and you'll see the text "Add to Favourites" appear in green. Click on this text, and you're telling us that you'd like that person or thing to be added to your personal list of items to keep track of.

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BBC Sport Beta Facebook App

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Aaron Scullion | 13:51 UK time, Thursday, 28 June 2012

BBC Sport app beta, showing Wimbledon. You're watching Bemelmans vs Gasquet, as are four of your friends. Court 3 is the most popular.

Mockup of the Facebook app during play, showing the social enhancement of the video

I'm Aaron Scullion, Executive Product Manager at BBC Future Media. I'm currently working on sport and the Olympics at the BBC, and recently blogged about the new BBC Sport app for connected TVs that we launched in April. I'd like to tell you about another way we're making it possible for you to watch live video from BBC Sport.

Today, we have launched a new BBC Sport Facebook app – the details are in the press release. During the Olympics this will enable users in the UK to watch up to 24 streams of live Olympics video the BBC is broadcasting (plus BBC One, Two and Three) – directly within Facebook.

Right now, we're running the service as a beta, featuring all our live video from Wimbledon – up to six live streams, plus BBC One and Two.

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The Future of Red Button

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Daniel Danker Daniel Danker | 11:30 UK time, Wednesday, 27 June 2012

a mock up of what a possible future for Red Button might look like

What a future connected Red Button service might look like

I'm Daniel Danker, General Manager of On Demand at the BBC, and today I spoke at the Future of Broadcasting conference on integrating online and traditional TV, focusing on our vision for Red Button.

Thirteen years ago this week, the BBC launched the first interactive experience for Wimbledon audiences via the Red Button. While watching Wimbledon, audiences could choose their court, monitor the scores in detail, and play along with an interactive quiz. A million people accessed this in 1999. Just two years later this figure was four million - fully 44% of our audience who tuned in played along.

Wimbledon helped us define what Red Button could deliver to our audiences. Since that launch thirteen years ago, Red Button has gone from success to success, with a third of the population of the UK pressing Red on a weekly basis.

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Connected Studio 3: Update and CBeebies

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Adrian Woolard | 17:00 UK time, Monday, 25 June 2012

Dozens of people working on wooden benches and red chairs in a brightly lit room

Teams hard at work at the Creative Studio, getting their concepts ready to pitch

Weather and Travel Creative Studio

On Tuesday June 12th the Google Campus was host to the second Creative Studio - part of the BBC Connected studio programme. The focus this time was on Weather and Travel.

Suitably enough it was pouring with rain as the attendees arrived but at least that reminded us why the British are obsessed with the weather.

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What's on BBC Red Button 23rd - 30th June

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James Aslett | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 23 June 2012

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Hackney Weekend 2012


Sub Focus performing at Radio 1's Big Weekend in Bangor

Extended highlights from Hackney Weekend 2012 are available to view via the Red Button. On Sky, Virgin and Freesat there's a minimum of two streams at all times, showing sets from four stages. We'll also be showing individual tracks from some of the BBC Introducing acts, alongside the big hitters!

Artists include: Sub Focus, Michael Kiwanuka, Rizzle Kicks, Example, DJ Fresh, The Maccabees, D'Banj, The Vaccines, Rudimental, deadmau5, Delilah, Flo Rida, Jack White, Sean Paul, Swedish House Mafia, Labrinth, Azealia Banks, David Guetta, Chase & Status and Nas.

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Digital Public Space: Watch This Space

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Hilary Bishop | 18:08 UK time, Friday, 22 June 2012

Shakespeare from around the world features on The Space, including a version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" from South Korea - part of the Globe to Globe season

Hi - I'm the Managing Editor of The Space.

I'm responsible for leading and managing the day to day delivery of The Space as a live service. I do scheduling, quality, compliance and editorial process. I try and make sure we have the necessary content mix, respond to audience and user behaviour, and ensure coherence on all platforms. I manage a small team and work closely with the technical team (lead by Jake who blogged last week) on the development of and implementation of the platforms.

When I was recruited (I only joined the project at the beginning of February - 3 months before launch), Tony Ageh told me 3 things which I have held on to. Firstly, that The Space is asking a question (or a series of questions), and is not supposed to be the answer. This means, he explained, that it will be a hard project, but we and others will learn a lot and therefore so long as we learn, we cannot fail.

Secondly, that while he needed me to hold on to my BBCishness, he also needed me to not always respond in a BBC way to the challenges I would face in dealing with the arts organisations who would be our "suppliers".

Thirdly, he warned that me and others on the editorial team would find it very hard not to roll up our sleeves and start fixing and doing and making output on behalf of the arts organisations. This we were expressly forbidden from doing until the last possible moment, because while we were there to advise, question, probe and even suggest, we were not there to make the projects. How else would we learn what the arts sector was capable of? (That was one of the questions being asked by the project).

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BBC TV Channel Homepages: Responsive Design

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Ste Everington Ste Everington | 17:00 UK time, Thursday, 21 June 2012

Picture of BBC Four homepage on a smarphone, tablet, and wide desktop monitor

BBC Four homepage designs for smartphone in portrait orientation, and for desktops and large tablets oriented in portait and landscape

Hello, I'm Ste Everington and I'm one of the designers leading the TV & iPlayer product. Last month saw the launch of the new television homepages for BBC One, Two, Three and Four. This blog post aims to give you some insight into the process and in particular our approach to responsive design.

As Dave Killeen mentions in his blog post, the way people view television online is changing and cross platform viewing is becoming ever more popular. This has fuelled the need to change and refresh our BBC TV channel homepages, which hadn't been updated for nearly four years.

We wanted to design an experience that is consistent across the thousands of different devices available, so that you can begin to ignore the device you're viewing it on and focus more on the content.

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BBC iPlayer: Live Restart

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Henry Webster | 14:30 UK time, Tuesday, 19 June 2012

BBC iPlayer showing BBC One live - but near the end of EastEnders. The rewind button is highlighted.

Even if EastEnders has nearly finished when you start watching it online, you can press a button and watch it from the beginning

My name is Henry Webster and I’m an Executive Product Manager in Media Services at the BBC – it’s my job to deliver our live video and audio content via IP (Internet Protocol), such as to BBC iPlayer and Connected TVs.

Today marks a major step in the evolution of BBC iPlayer with the launch of 'Live Restart'.

A first in the UK, ‘Live Restart’ enables audiences to rewind and restart live TV on BBC iPlayer without waiting for the programme to end.

So, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam, or delayed on the tube and miss the critical start of your favourite BBC programme when you get in, with one click you can skip back to the beginning of that live programme.

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Expanding the BBC's Global Experience Language

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Andrew Greenham | 14:00 UK time, Monday, 18 June 2012

The BBC clock, with the lines that make it up

The lines of the BBC clock inspire some of GEL's iconography

I'm Andrew Greenham, Creative Director for the BBC Global Experience Language (GEL) and part of the User Experience and Design team for BBC Future Media.

In this post I'd like to talk about some of the additions to the BBC Global Experience Language and give an overview of the new BBC design guidelines and patterns for Mobile, IPTV and Tablet devices. You can see the recently updated GEL site at

In February 2010 BBC UX&D Head of Design Bronwyn van der Merwe's blog post gave an insight into the process of developing the new Global Experience Language, or Global Visual Language 3.0 (GVL) as it was known back then.

The rollout has continued over the past year and a half and has included the launch of BBC Proms, Desert Island Discs and the new BBC Weather site at the end of last year.

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What's on BBC Red Button 16th - 23rd June

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James Aslett | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 16 June 2012

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Trooping the Colour

Watch uninterrupted coverage of Trooping the Colour, the Queen's Birthday Parade on the Red Button. There's continuous live coverage from the events without any commentary.

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Digital Public Space: In Space Everybody Can See You Stream

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Jake Berger Jake Berger | 12:57 UK time, Friday, 15 June 2012

the moment when venus and adonis finally finished transcoding just after midnight on may 1st

The moment when the Globe to Globe production of Venus and Adonis finally finished transcoding just after midnight on May 1st.

Last August the BBC and Arts Council England formed a partnership to deliver a new platform for digital arts, The Space.

My team started to build it during August last year, and we launched on May 1st, delivering a multimedia, multi-platform,cross-genre, global arts service that supports video, audio, articles, image galleries, games, interactive applications and live streams and is available on smartphones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, and Freeview HD (Channel 117 if you want to have a look).

It was a bit of a rush.

From nothing a small group of us created a design and user experience, developed a content management system based on a very customised Wordpress instance, coded responsive design templates to work on a variety of screen sizes, built a transcoding system, procured a cloud-based content management and content delivery network, went through a cycle of user testing, contracted two live streaming suppliers, procured a bespoke VOD (video on demand) application for Freeview HD, launched a Freeview HD channel, and went live with a global site that works on more-or-less any modern browser and quite a few older ones.

After forty days in my own special wilderness, I'm coming up for air after what were certainly the most exciting days of my life at the BBC. On a few occasions I've found myself wondering what on earth I was thinking on the fateful day last year when I muttered 'why don't we build this ourselves' to Tony Ageh and Mo McRoberts, but I don't regret any of it.

We took on the task knowing it would at best be very difficult and at worst prove to be impossible. There have been many late nights and early starts. So many screens, so many refreshes. So many contracts, so many lawyers. So many cables, so many encoding profiles.

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BBC Sport on Mobile

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Lucie Mclean Lucie Mclean | 11:45 UK time, Thursday, 14 June 2012

Sport video mocked up on two iPhones - the list of videos and a single video of a tennis match playing.

A dedicated video index displays the live video available on the BBC Sport mobile website

Hello - I'm Lucie Mclean, senior product manager in BBC Future Media and responsible for BBC Sport services on mobile devices.

During this first full week of Euro 2012 games, we've been testing some exciting new ways to enjoy the football, which I'm delighted to unveil to you all today.

Ahead of England's clash with Sweden tomorrow, you can now watch all the Euro 2012 matches broadcast by the BBC directly on your mobile - live, and on demand, as well as highlights from all games. And that video will be available on 3G and wifi, so you can keep up and catch up with all the action wherever you are.

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BBC Weather: Getting More Granular

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Jo Wickremasinghe Jo Wickremasinghe | 16:23 UK time, Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Since my last blog post 3 months ago the BBC Weather team have been quietly busy. We have been working closely with our colleagues in the BBC Weather Centre to move to a new, more complex forecast data model from the Met Office.

This new data set gives us more granular data, both in terms of the number of forecast points across the UK (a tenfold increase), and in terms of granularity and frequency of the forecasts themselves.

The new data was rolled out in time for the start of the Torch Relay, which enabled the BBC Weather Centre to give more detailed forecasts along the Torch Relay route. Today we rolled out a change to the BBC Weather website to make the most of this rich new data set.

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Homepages for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

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Clare Hudson | 16:30 UK time, Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Homepage in Gaelic, showing content from BBC Alba

The BBC Homepage in Gaelic, for a user in Glasgow

Back in November when the new BBC Homepage launched, my technical counterpart James Thornett and his boss Phil Fearnley described how the team intended to evolve the product over time and improve the homepage for all users.

As homepage editorial lead, I’m happy to announce a significant new development as the BBC nations’ homepages become an integral part of the main homepage product.

So what's changing?

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New Beta Homepages for Radio Stations

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Chris Kimber Chris Kimber | 17:00 UK time, Monday, 11 June 2012

Index cards stuck on a grid attached to a transparent wall. They all sit in the column saying

The planning wall in the Radio & Music product office.

Today sees a significant step towards the new Radio and Music product with the release of new beta station homepages for most of the BBC's radio stations.

This is the biggest change since the updates which I blogged about in February. It is the result of work by Andrew Scott's Radio & Music team in Future Media, and our editorial colleagues in Mark Friend's department, Audio & Music Interactive.

These pages are being released under a "Beta" banner, meaning they are not yet fully complete, and will not yet replace existing homepages (with the exception of Asian Network and 5Live Sports Extra which have already moved over to the product).

The reason we are releasing them now is to gather feedback on both audience needs and technical issues, which will help us ensure any major concerns can be dealt with before the product is launched later this year. Take a tour of the new features on our Welcome Page.

Menubar, showing Radio (Beta: What's new?), and Stations | Categories | Programme Finder | Schedule | Favourites

Consistent navigation across stations, showing link to welcome page

The most significant thing about this beta release is it shows how we're working to bring all of the BBC's radio stations together into one easy to use product, replacing the widely diverging designs, back end systems and technology that currently exist.

Our aim has been to put audience needs first, using a combination of usage data analysis, user testing and audience research to ensure that radio listeners get even more from BBC Radio.

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What's on BBC Red Button 9th - 16th June

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James Aslett | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 9 June 2012

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London Collection


Aerial view of London, looking east towards Canary Wharf

The London Collection is an archive collection that celebrates the people and places of London. Highlights are available on the red button and the full archive collection is available online at BBC Four Collections. There will be various programmes on both BBC Two and BBC Four which are supported by this collection.

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Olympic Torch Relay Website

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Michael Burnett Michael Burnett | 13:00 UK time, Friday, 8 June 2012

Screengrab of /torchrelay

Even if you joined the torch relay live, you can now drag the scrub bar back and see what you missed

In my role as Product Lead in BBC Future Media, I’m responsible for the development of the BBC’s Olympic torch relay website and 2012 Portal.

Couple of news flashes before I start – firstly, UK users can now watch live torch relay video, or #bbctorchcam as it’s known by many, on their iPhones. Secondly, we’ve just enabled "live rewind" functionality on the live video stream for the standard website. So, if you’ve just started watching the morning relay session on the site and missed the Olympic flame go past your house 10 minutes ago, then never fear, just drag the player scrub bar 10 minutes back and hey presto, watch the moment.

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What's on BBC Red Button 2nd June - 9th June

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Tess Foster Tess Foster | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 2 June 2012

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The Diamond Jubilee


Follow the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations on the Red Button. There will be uninterrupted coverage from the events (not available on Freeview) during the BBC One programmes, you will be able to watch the events in full without commentary. Over the weekend we will be showing either full repeats of the events or highlights.

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5 Interesting Stories: Olympic Plans, Prototypes, Privacy, and iPlayer stats

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Ian McDonald Ian McDonald | 11:43 UK time, Friday, 1 June 2012

Men putting electronics together.

Preparing the Palace of Arts for broadcasting the 1948 London Olympics

It's been a fortnight of long-laid plans. It's been the first fortnight of the torch relay, kicking off the BBC's digital coverage of the Olympics; the Connected Studio have had their first "build studio", and we've caught up with four months of iPlayer stats.

1. Olympics Plans

On Sunday May 20, Owen Gibson of the Guardian interviewed the BBC's Director of 2012 Roger Mosey about his ambitious plans for the Olympics. Owen wondered how the audience will find their way through so much content.

The Olympics will all but take over BBC1 and an extended-hours BBC3 for 17 days this summer, and 24 new dedicated channels besides on cable and satellite. Mosey promises "every event from the first thing in the morning to the last thing at night", offering 2,500 hours of sports coverage alone – 1,000 more than from Beijing.

The huge choice, including a new digital dashboard that will allow viewers to build their own schedule of live and recorded events, could lead to paralysis or diminish the ability to tell the "story" of the Games. Mosey concedes navigation is "a major challenge" but thinks his team have got the balance right.

Staff have blogged here about those 24 live streams (and how capacity is being increased), the Sports product on web (update) and on Connected TV, and given an inside look at the semantic logic that underpins both.

Bloggers and online magazines shared a preview of what the BBC's digital plans will look like on different devices.

Pocket Lint’s Hunter Skipworth gave readers a hands-on review of the BBC's Olympic apps and sites on a range of mobiles and connected TVs:

At the moment the application is going to be running on Sony smart TVs, Virgin Media TiVo via the red button and the PlayStation 3 via an app. No Xbox sadly.

PaidContent's Robert Andrews interviewed Phil Fearnly:

But the BBC News & Knowledge general manager is promising a buzzword right on-message with London games organisers themselves – “legacy”.

Robert expanded on this in his main article:

Much of the BBC’s digital Olympics offering is merely the result of the continuous iterative product development that the corporation undergoes. The platforms that have been built are also expected to be redeployed for upcoming live events including Euro 2012 and Wimbledon.

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