The BBC is planning to provide a permanent web page for every episode of every programme it has ever broadcast. The ambitious proposal was outlined by Jana Bennett, the director of BBC Vision at the Banff World Television Festival in Canada. Separately, the BBC has outlined multi-million pound plans for a permanent multiplatform interactive sport service it is calling Mysportnow.
Jana Bennett said that “multiplatform is reshaping the business of growing hits and redefining our relationship with the audience”. She noted that “the life expectancy of our programmes has just increased significantly with the advent of iPlayer.”
The online service provides 400 hours of programming a week, adding up to over 20,000 hours of television over a year. It is expected to soon be delivering over a million streams and downloads a day.
Currently a programme will deliver about 2% of its first broadcast audience, but some cult shows have reached 30% of their audience online. The iPlayer still only extends the broadcast window. However, programmes will continue to be available online elsewhere, including the proposed Kangaroo service planned as a joint venture between the BBC and commercial channels ITV and Channel 4.
Jana Bennett outlined plans for “a permanent page for every episode of every programme the BBC has ever broadcast”. These permanent pages “will always direct the audience to the programme — wherever it may be on the web — first in iPlayer, then elsewhere on bbc.co.uk or on iTunes or on any number of other on demand services including Kangaroo.” She added that “each page and clip will be promotional for that programme in perpetuity”.
“Eventually, we will add our programme back catalogue to produce pages for programming stretching back over nearly 80 years — featuring all the information we have on the richest TV and radio archive in the world.”
“The controlled moments of transmission that television has permitted in the past, and the elaborate systems of temporal windows we have established after them, will in the not too far distant future seem like a period of technological aberration.”
The restrictions are not only temporal but geographic. “The web is, of course, a global medium and increasingly its users are knocking at the doors of the structures television has established for territorial exploitation.”
Jana Bennett suggested that the logic of the world wide web will over time “change the lay of the land and almost certainly lead to internal realignments in our industry.”
Whether the BBC will actually realise its grandiose ambition of an index of every programme it has made over the last eighty years remains to be seen.
The BBC is also planning a permanent interactive sports service on digital television following the summer Olympics in Beijing. The service will be available through the red button on cable and satellite, including the new Freesat platform, and in more limited form on Freeview terrestrial television.
“We know there is a big audience for sport outside big events and we want to extend an interactive service to that audience on demand by maximising the assets available to us across the BBC,” said Ben Gallop, head of BBC Sport Interactive. “BBC Sport is very strong on the web and on radio. It is less strong on TV, where it is only associated with major events. We want BBC Sport to be a brand association across all platforms.”