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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.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the app is a BBC Sport service, but is entirely delivered within Facebook.

This means that we can use the social functionality Facebook offers to enhance the experience.

For example, when you watch a match in Facebook, you can see how many people - and how many people you're friends with on Facebook - are watching that same event.

As well as that, the fact that you're watching the match is shared with your friends, via an update in their Facebook news feed. (You can easily remove each update with a single click if you don't want to share at a particular time).

You can also see which matches are proving most popular on Facebook, and switch to a different video stream on that basis.

We want as many licence fee payers as possible to have access to the full Olympics live video offering, and our Facebook app will offer this to viewers who may not regularly visit the BBC Sport website. As previously announced, during the Games the BBC will offer audiences more choice than ever before with up to 24 Olympic streams on cable, satellite, online and connected TV. Helping viewers find the event they want to watch is key, and our Facebook app offers another way to choose what you want to watch, by showing which events are most popular with the public, and which events your friends are watching.

We will be testing the BBC Sport app during Wimbledon, and updating it with more functionality as we go.

This is the first time the BBC has streamed content in Facebook, and we are excited to offer our audiences a social viewing experience around big sports events.

As ever, the full BBC Sport offering continues to be available at www.bbc.co.uk/sport.

In the near future we’ll blog about this app again, with more details on the technical architecture that underpins what we’ve launched today. I'd be very interested in hearing feedback from anyone who has tried the application in the comments below.

Aaron Scullion is Executive Product Manager, BBC Future Media


  • Comment number 1.

    Will you be able to watch matches on mobile phones too?

  • Comment number 2.

    Handing a commercial company (whose revenue is made from advertising) licence fee paid content?

    How much is Facebook paying the BBC for this?

  • Comment number 3.

    I STRONGLY object to this. I’m not on Facebook (I can’t see the point of it and don’t trust Zuckerberg with my information) and because of this I’m not being allowed to watch this content, despite me being a licence payer.

    It’s an absolute disgrace that a private company, whose privacy practices are suspect at best, have been handed this premium content by the BBC. Who’s paying who here? Facebook’s going to be laughing with the additional advertising revenue and the wealth of data about the people using the BBC Olympics App. Win-Win for Facebook. Lose-Lose for users and licence-payers.

    I’m so angry about this that I’m contacting my MP regarding it. The BBC’s gone too far this time. And I'll be amazed if they post this.....

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm suitably amazed! ;-)

  • Comment number 5.

    With you VR59. This IS a step too far.

    If the BBC is not being paid for giving content to Facebook, along with all that lovely free data that Facebook will receive, this is a disgrace.

  • Comment number 6.

    And why only Facebook? What about every other Social Network, or website, for that matter?

    Can I now just set up my own, and rebroadcast BBC content for free? After all, the quote from Auntie is "We want as many licence fee payers as possible to have access to the full Olympics live video offering".

  • Comment number 7.

    It's so tiresome and predictable. Every time the BBC does something innovative someone will find a reason to criticise. The streamis available on the Facebook website as well as the BBC website; it's not an exclusive deal. Read the whole of article first before complaining: "As ever, the full BBC Sport offering continues to be available at www.bbc.co.uk/sport."

  • Comment number 8.

    Jonathan Hartley - I love the BBC, but giving away content to Facebook is a step too far in my book, no pun intended. If it's also on the BBC website why do it and facilitate even more earnings for Facebook with licence-payer funded content?

    And Green Soap has a good point - I have a website which gets over 3 million visits per month. I think I'll set up BBC Olympics streaming on it and see what happens.

  • Comment number 9.

    So what's in it for the licence payer, Jonathan?

    Content is either
    1) paid for by Facebook, as it will bring them more revenue.
    2) Provided Free to facebook by the BBC

    If it's 1, then fair enough, a commercial deal has been struck, and the BBC generates more income, which in turn can benefit the budget, much as BBC worldwide sells/sold the BBC's content overseas. I do have concerns over advertising that may accompany BBC content on Facebook, and Data Collection, however.

    If it's 2, then that is reprehensible. Giving away a commercial product, to another commercial organisation raises questions about many things, not only the impartiality of the BBC. Again, what other Websites will be "given" such a valuable product? Youtube or Google+?

    As a licence fee payer, I question that. I'm sure that rival companies would also question the favouring of Facebook.

    The BBC's content is easily accessed on every platform and resources MUST be concentrated on those, and those alone.

  • Comment number 10.

    This is the absolute limit. The sooner the BBC is totally privatised and I have a way of opting out of the licence tax the better.

    By the way how much money is being wasted by totally unnnecessary attendance by BBC spivs at the Olympics and football? All outside broadcast sports and other commentary can be performed just as well from their plush new studios.

  • Comment number 11.

    Dear Aaron Scullion,

    Could you explain if the BBC has "sold" the content to Facebook? Does it generate a measure revenue stream for the company?

    If yes - great business and I look forward to A REDUCTION in the licence fee from this venture.

    If not - please can I apply to use the same stream and collect my own revenue from advertising.

    Many thanks

  • Comment number 12.


  • Comment number 13.

    I have been complaining about similar things to this for years. Finally it seems that people have realised that the links the BBC has with Facebook and Twitter, and the overpromotion both receive benefit only these private companies, and not the BBC or its licence fee payers.

    This is a clear breach of the BBC's own editorial guidelines, just like every unnecessary mention of "Twitter" and "Facebook" across the networks. The BBC's content should be produced for, and available only on the BBC website.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm dumbfounded. Please explain the financial deal that has been arranged. Facebook gain money out of ads on BBC content?

    Does this fit with the BBC Charter (1.3.3) ...."the Agreement forbids any BBC service funded by the licence fee or grant-in-aid from carrying advertising or sponsored programmes". This is not BBC worldwide, which has different policies. Nothing in the charter states who is the recipient of the advert revenue.

    How can the BBC justify, under its charter, Facebook getting financial gain from ad revenue from BBC content and valuable viewer information from the BBC?

    A while back, the BBC used to put a facebook widget *ON EVERY PAGE* on its news site. That widget was hosted by facebook, so they, for free, got web stat information on BBC website visitors. I pointed this out to the BBC, and a few days later they removed the widget thankfully. Is this another case similar to this?

  • Comment number 15.

    If people are concerned about this being an issue, then surely all the free content that the BBC's own staff provide to Twitter via their own BBC-sanctioned accounts is also questionable.

    The BBC's content should be on the BBC website and nowhere else. (Except where sold by BBC Worldwide).

  • Comment number 16.

    The BBC's content should be on the BBC website and nowhere else.

    I concur.

  • Comment number 17.


    Thanks for your comments.

    Although the question of whether the BBC's content should appear on an app on a third party site is, I think, on-topic for Aaron's blog, the conversation (and speculation) is beginning to stray a bit - both away from the topic (eg onto the BBC's funding model), and away from the house rules ("spiv").

    It would be nice to hear what people think of not just the idea of a BBC Sport Facebook app, but the app itself.

    More off-topic posts will be removed.



  • Comment number 18.

    Is the BBC likely to advise the licence payer what, if any payment is being received?

  • Comment number 19.

    Now we know why the red button died. Advertising.

  • Comment number 20.

    Ian McDonald, I can't comment on the App as not being a Facebook user I can't use it. And to be honest, even if I WAS a Facebook user I wouldn't use ANY of the apps on the Facebook site because of the privacy issues/breaches and Facebook's general contempt for its users and their information.

    The idea of BBC apps in general is ok with me - I use a BBC News app on my Android tablet and it does it's job, but the idea of tying an app to the likes of Facebook doesn't work for me on any level. In fact it's not really acceptable tying the BBC to a commercial, strictly-for-profit and contemptable company like Facebook.

    If the BBC are going to develop and deploy apps, they need to be independent apps. It's as simple as that.

  • Comment number 21.

    In order to watch Rosol v Nadal, I needed to click on "Karlovic v Murray - Centre Court" of the available links on the right under "Most Popular". Something not quite right there.

  • Comment number 22.

    I don't see why people are so hurt by this. BBC coverage is being brought to more people through Facebook, whilst it's still just as accessible to anyone who isn't on the social network. Shouldn't we be glad that everyone can more easily watch this amazing summer of sport?

    With regard to advertising, it's inadvertent. Like the Carlsberg ads that appear on the boards around Football stadia the Beeb broadcasts from. Or the high street stores shown in background shots during the News.

    Having used the app a bit, it looks great. I can't wait to share The Olympics with my Facebook friends.

  • Comment number 23.

    ^ Greg the problem is that by providing content to Facebook, the BBC is allowing Facebook, Inc (a profit making company) to benefit from the content funded by BBC licence fee payers. It's like the BBC producing Eastenders and then handing it to ITV to air.

    Not only that, but the BBC employs some great technical people and these people should surely be dedicated to making BBC.co.uk the best website it can be. We don't know how many people worked on this project, but we do know that by spending time working for Facebook's benefit, BBC.co.uk did not receive some improvements that it could have.

    If the issue is that people can't find the content on the BBC website, then more should be done to improve the user experience on this website, rather than providing content to third parties for them to profit from.

  • Comment number 24.

    I personally agree with Greg. It is good for the BBC to be expanding its base to target new audiences and allow them to make the most of the experience and to share it with friends.

    In response to FishFingers, the BBC were specifically told in the 2004 Hutton Report that BBC Online shouldn't try and compete to outside websites, instead if that information is provided elsewhere they should link to it.

  • Comment number 25.

    I am quite frankly appalled at the communication of the BBC. I had no notice of the closure of the News Multiscreen Service which I have always valued. There was no lead in and I actually only found out today when I checked online to see what had happened. The notice was given on 14 June and the Service was removed after this time. I value the internet content but not everyone can afford to have the latest model tv or have access to the internet. And the comments page is shut less than a fortnight after the initial announcement. Was there any viewer involvement in this decision?

  • Comment number 26.

    Sorry, I really don't understand the need for this as the content's already stated as being readily available on the BBC Sport website which, is supposedly so popular that it withstood thousands of negative comments about its 'upgrade' earlier this year.
    Why just facebook too?
    I would consider most real sports fans (who sadly do like the awful new BBC Sport website) would have the page flagged in their 'Favorites' & wouldn't need anything on facebook.
    I think it would have been better to invest time investigating & actually providing responses as to why this was so negatively received & invest in producing what was required by respondants thereby not requiring this cheapening of the much vaunted brand.

  • Comment number 27.

    It's great to see BBC Sport now on facebook for Wimbledon and the Olympics. It's going to be a great summer of sport for the BBC and is going to be watched by everyone via loads of different ways, which is great as it shows the BBC is now up to date with the latest technology available.

  • Comment number 28.

    A number of you have commented on the nature of the BBC Sport app on Facebook, and I wanted to respond to your questions and feedback. 

    As stated in my original post above, the BBC Sport app on Facebook is part of the BBC's strategy to ensure we deliver maximum public value by providing our content for free across a range of devices and platforms. 
    The content in the new BBC Sport Facebook app is not unique or bespoke for Facebook. So, for Wimbledon, this is exactly the same content that you can access via web browsers on the BBC Sport website on desktop, mobile and tablet, and on red button and Internet-connected TVs.  
    We have already announced very similar BBC Sports apps to make our Olympics content available on red button services for Virgin Media, Sky and FreeSat. A BBC Sport app is also now available on smart TV’s and games consoles by manufacturers including Sony, Panasonic and Samsung.
    I also wanted to clarify that there is no commercial arrangement with Facebook. In terms of advertising, the app has been built using the standard Facebook page structure. Where advertising currently appears within Facebook’s format, this will be reflected in the BBC Sport app. The exception is for the Olympics where there will be no advertising around the app, in accordance with relevant laws protecting the Olympic trademark and by the IOC.
    Re. data, anyone using the BBC Sport app on Facebook is already an existing Facebook user, and as such already share their data with Facebook. From the BBC’s side, data will be used only for the purposes of enabling the features within the app, and no data about the user is stored permanently on BBC servers.  
    With over 30m users of Facebook in the UK, we see Facebook as another distribution platform for us to reach an audience who might not naturally come to bbc.co.uk/sport but who are nevertheless interested in our content.

  • Comment number 29.

    Aaron the difference is that by making content available on different devices, you are providing a key benefit to users in allowing them to access it where they would otherwise not be able to (tablet, TV etc as you said).

    However, this "application" for Facebook carries the same requirements as you have for accessing the content on the BBC Sport website - user must have computer with internet, browser and appropriate plugin. So where is the benefit to the licence fee payers in embedding this on Facebook.com?

    The only beneficiary that I can see is Facebook, Inc.

    If users are unaware that they can watch tennis on the BBC website, despite the constant TV and radio mentions as part of the broadcast, then surely these people are not going to be interested, whether it is available on Facebook or not.

    Also, can I ask how you will measure the success of this, given that there is no way to determine if a user on Facebook only accessed the content because they did not know to visit BBC.co.uk to find it?

  • Comment number 30.

    @28 You state that "We have already announced very similar BBC Sports apps to make our Olympics content available on red button services for Virgin Media, Sky and FreeSat. A BBC Sport app is also now available on smart TV’s and games consoles by manufacturers including Sony, Panasonic and Samsung."

    Forgive me if I am wrong, as I have only witnessed the Samsung TV, the Virgin Offering and the Red Button, but there is a fundamental difference. Advertising. None of these "very similar" offerings have advertising, and therefore a direct revenue stream for the provider off the back of the BBC content. Yes they are commercial companies that indirectly make money by offering BBC content (i.e. by increasing the desirability of their product). But they do not directly make cash via an ad stream.

    You haven't answered the question about how this fits with the BBC policy/charter that states "the Agreement forbids any BBC service funded by the licence fee or grant-in-aid from carrying advertising or sponsored programmes".

    Could this be answered?

    Also - who provides the adverts? Facebook? Could a competitor have ads next to BBC Content? Or worse still what happens if adverts are served that contradict BBC values or are from a political party - how would that fit with BBC impartiality?

    PS. I wanted to have a look at it to see how prominent the ads were etc. All I get is
    "Use of app "BBC Sport" has been restricted" despite being on Virgin ISP in London! Nice One!

  • Comment number 31.

    @29 I would assume the benefit of this app is that it allows users to talk about what they are watching, with their friends (and the general public if they want), in real time. Creating a much better social experience for everyone.

    It also allows other people to see what their friends are watching, and in turn this will make more people watch the live streams. Which again is a benefit that can't be provided on any of the other platforms without having several things open at once.

  • Comment number 32.

    This seems pointless, it offers nothing other than advertising for facebook on-top of the existing bbc website. spend more time developing decent apps and web sites for devices that need it.

    the new video player for example on my iPad doesnt go full screen when I click it, it only fills the browser window (apart from still showing the bbc header at the top)

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    Excellent! it appears that live streaming is going to happen for the Olympics but I don't think it should be on FB anyway. Why not go the whole hog and give it to SKY TV as well. Surely the BBC want to get their own viewing figures and not give FB the advantage of seeing how valuable something like the Olympics is to them. Fast forward 10 years and the only place to watch it will be on Facebook and a lot of the BBC staff will be applying for a job at McDonalds because they stupidly gave events like this away. A nail in your own coffin I think

  • Comment number 35.

    So if the Advertising is binned thanks to the IOC insisting, (presumably to protect its own deals) then it is technically possible for the advertising on the BBC's own facebook output to be binned all the time.

    And Aaron, Facebook is not a platform. It's a portal. Don't fool us with the red herring of Sky, Virgin Media, et al, and answer the previously asked questions, which other websites will be able to stream licence payers content.

  • Comment number 36.

    As a frequent user of Facebook and someone who completely ignores the advertising on there I don't really have a problem with the availability of BBC content on there. I regularly view YouTube content on there that I would not see if it was not available through Facebook so it will more than likely open BBC content to an audience that would not otherwise see it.

    I do question though if I wished to include BBC content on my website would I be allowed to do so? Surely I should be granted such permission based on this.

  • Comment number 37.

    That's the multi-million dollar question that so far, the BBC has refused to answer.
    Who can stream BBC content on their own website, and if they can't, why are they favouring Facebook?

    We have been told it's to open up the availability of BBC programmes, by the BBC's own previous statements, so to that effect, any Tom, Dick, or Zuckerberg can stream away.

  • Comment number 38.

    '37. At 21:25 6th Jul 2012, Green Soap -
    That's the multi-million dollar question that so far, the BBC has refused to answer.
    The choice of currency seems apt, somehow. All rather forewarned here:
    Thoughts invited, and then when not to taste threatened with the norty step and then so treated. Before a closing. It's worth popping over to the Newsnight thread to see how well the move to twitter and FaceBook is working out. No, really.

  • Comment number 39.

    So, coming up for nearly 2 weeks since the last post, which didn't address the fundamental problems of 3rd party BBC content hosting, and streaming.

    When will we be treated to a reply to these issues, or will they continue to be ignored, as they are uncomfortable to answer?

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi, I manage partnerships within the technology industry for the BBC. The BBC Sport app for Facebook was built by the BBC and all content is streamed to the end user from our servers via a BBC player within the app. We don’t syndicate individual streams to other parties or websites. As with this app, any apps that we build on 3rd party platforms are in line with the BBC’s Syndication Guidelines which you can find here www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/howwework/policiesandguidelines/syndication.html

  • Comment number 41.

    Thanks SienaPakington.

    I'd suggest that the BBC should read the (recently updated) guidelines again then.
    Especially section 4.1 (g) To Access BBC Content free of charge, and free from advertising and sponsorship.

    If Facebook adverts re-appear after the IOC block, then I'd suggest that the BBC would be in breach of it's own guidelines by allowing adverts to appear alongside its Content.

  • Comment number 42.

    Thanks SienaPakington,

    as Green Soap points out - you may need to re-read that document.

    4.1 (a) 1. BBC Content should appear in a relevant content
    section, ... and without additional registration.

    I'm not registered on Facebook - and all I get is a "This app is restricted" message. My ISP is Virgin Media in London. So how does the need to register for facebook fit in with this Syndication Guideline?

    4.1 (g) To access BBC Content free of charge, and free from advertising and sponsorship

    There are adverts by the side - again how does this app fit into this guideline?

    4.1 (g) 4. Syndication Partners must not require audiences to
    subscribe to other services in order to access BBC Content

    Again - subscription for facebook is required.

    Will somebody answer these points - or will I have to file a formal complaint to the BBC to get answers? Why not be transparent and answer them here in an open forum?

  • Comment number 43.

    Thanks Joe, glad it's not just me that has issues with this move.
    An answer would be most welcome, and not the usual waffle that fails to address issues thanks.

  • Comment number 44.


    I've reread the sections you quote and I'm not sure you are correct.

    4.1(a) States that content must be provided on a similar basis to other content on the service. It doesn't say you shouldn't need to register to access the service just that there shouldn't additional specific registrations to access the BBC content.

    4.1(g) States that there shouldn't be adverts inserted into the video stream or between programmes on the stream. My understanding is that facebook are not doing this.

    Finally, you do not need to register for additional services to access the BBC content. THis clause appears to prevent providers from bundling the BBC content with other products - ie get subscribe to XBox Gold and get BBC content for free. Facebook are not doing this either.

  • Comment number 45.

    4.1(g) only says "eg". Not a definitive list of how advertising appears with the BBC Content.

  • Comment number 46.

    Will the BBC Sport App also be available for 2012 Samsung PVR's (7500/7900) in the future? iPlayer is great.


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