BBC Innovating Social Telly

bbc logo

I’ve long been a fan of how the BBC take the internet seriously. They have great team in place and this culminates in their brilliant BBC Internet blog. Who is this blog written for? I don’t know. It seems to be random pieces of information surrounding BBC Online, recent projects and challenges. I love it.

Then there is also the upcoming Digital Revolution series commissioned by the BBC for 2010. This will be a User Generated Content (UGC) TV series and I look forward to it hitting our screens.

Strictly Social

A fab recent example of their innovative digital ¬†approach is the Strictly Social project. Forget ‘red button’ interactive TV, this is truly interactive – and social.

Designed for use both during the show and throughout the week, Strictly Social allows viewers to ‘play along at home’. The most notable thing about this is…I actually do play along at home. The number of time I find myself shouting out ‘7’ just before the judge does. So, rather than being abstract, this actually matches a real life demand.

What is it?

A Flash application that allows viewers to play along at home. It consists of five main elements:

1) The Video Screen – This displays the actual show.
2) Emotional Reaction Visualisation
– Allows viewers to react to the show using ‘boos’, ‘wows’ and ‘gasps’.
3) Guess The Judge’s Score – Does what it says on the tin. allows viewers to pre-empt the judge’s verdict on dances. Users are then awarded points depending on how accurate their predictions were. This is a good loyalty feature.
4) Have Your Say – Comment or view other user’s comments.
5) Answer This – Quiz with random in-show questions.

Large Audience

Of course, with it being the BBC there will be no problems around seeding or advertising the service. The BBC website broke its own record for unique visitors when 300,000 people visited on the day the Strictly dancers were revealed. These are big numbers, at the level most commercial brands only dream of attracting. As the BBC admit themselves;

“The TV show traditionally has an older, female audience who don’t tend to come online, whilst the site attracts the younger web savvier audience.”

They hope that this application will attract the older viewers to the website and, I presume, the younger online users to watch the TV show. The team have made the conscious decision not to focus on the Strictly Twitter feed, as a large part of their audience don’t regularly use Twitter.

So log on on Saturday night and enjoy!

BBC Music Beta


Open source seems to be the way forward at the moment for large UK organisations. February saw the launch of Guardian Open Platform which allows 3rd parties to utilise their API to create useful applications.

The BBC has now launched their music beta called….BBC Music. The new site aims to be an aggregator of data from both internal sources (BBC) and external sources (Musicbrainz, Wikipedia). The aim? Well their intention appear to be entirely altruistic. To create a hub for music whereby info from across the wide spectrum of BBC sites/microsites is pulled together to create a single, consolidated platform for music. They are also “now publishing several hundred thousand pages automatically, which harvest third-party content from Wikipedia and MusicBrainz” (BBC Internet Blog)

What does this mean for us users?

Well essentially its makes it a whole lot easier to browse artists and to then find out more once you have reached your artist’s page.

Say I like the Arctic Monkeys. I go to BBC Music and use their nifty Flash scroll bar to find them. If they don’t appear then I can just choose to view all artists and locate them alphabetically.

Once I have found my chosen artist I am then presented with a whole host of info about them, both from within the BBC and from external sources:

- Latest news stories (from the BBC)
- Biography (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
- BBC Reviews (A mashup of all reviews from throughout the BBC on this artist)
- Now On The BBC (directs you to where they are currently appearing on BBC Online)
- Played by (Which DJ’s have played that artists music)
- Played on (Which BBC channels have played music by that artist)
- Members (Who’s in the band)
- Links (to: Official Homepage; Fansite; Wikipedia; IMDb; Myspace & MusicBrainz)


Thats a lot of information and great for users of BBC online to be able to find out so much, about so many artists. They are constantly adding new material and acknowledge that the site is very much still in the beta phase.

The one concernI had was that all of this information could be obtain by purely going to an artist’s Myspace? so what was the point? they responded by saying “you’re absolutely right. We know that our users rightly expect an artist page to contain audio – it’s what happens everywhere else on the web, isn’t it? And we’re on the case – there are technology and rights issues to consider here, but we think there’s a way round it. Watch this space.

So could BBC soon be a contender for Myspace? With the API to such a large amount of info being opened up…watch this space!

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Beebcamp 2 – The BBC’s version of BarCamp


Wednesday the 18th February saw the BBC host it’s now annual ‘BeebCamp. Yes this is a play on the word BarCamp and yes – they do have the same theme.

BeebCamp is designed as a collective, spontaneous bashing together of ideas, with no set structure to the day.” This was a get together of largely BBC employees but also included some external bloggers of note to add to the mix.

I’m slightly confused. BarCamp (and all other get togethers with the ‘camp’ suffix) is a user generated ‘unconference‘ – For the people by the people. Surely a camp organised by a corporation afor a corporation will never truely have an unbiased agenda? Therefore maybe they shouldn’t have jumped on the Camp bandwagon. Kinda like if Lloyds were to call their annual conference ‘Lloyds Fest’…It’s just a bit…

Anyway thats only a mild query as any get together of digital minds is always an exiting thing. Items discussed included pre pay TV, uses of Twitter, a user generated content presentation and ‘open source documentaries’.

Each discussion was limited to 20mins (10 mins each) although there were some who would like to see 30 mins sessions next time as there’s just too much to talk about!

This is one blogger who would love an invite to BeebCamp 3…hint hint ; )

Read more here:


Photo’s on Flickr
social media blog

BBC using social media for its teenager brand…

Once upon a time the BBC made programmes, put them on the TV at a specified time and we watched it if we felt so inclined.

BBC Switch is the corporation’s teenager wing. I imagine it to be a section of their television studios with a disco in one corner, Kevin the teenager sulking in another and Hoodies (thats what teenagers wear isn’t it?) having board meetings.
So what the BBC are doing now is going multi platform. They’re flirting with the New Media furore and it’s great! Research done by the BBC themselves shows that the young are far more likely to use the internet for entertainment.

So what has Auntie been doing then? Well they are creating a new show for teenagers called ‘Proper Messy’. this will be delivered in short, 90 second episodes and be shown on BBC 2, the BBC switch site and kids favourite, Bebo (Blog Early Blog Often). The BBC is also hoping that 5000 of it’s target audience will sign up to receive mobile SMS text featuring real time messages from the soap’s characters. Future storylines will then be affected by audience participation.
A bold and welcome step by the BBC and if it works, they could capture a large proportion of the hoodie market.