The BBC has this week revealed another step forward in their broadcasting offerings, as they revealed a reinvention of their Red Button interactive TV service that now offers additional internet-connected content to subscribers of the Virgin Media TiVo platform.
The new service makes its debut appearance on Virgin Media’s TiVo, as it opened yesterday to a potential viewer-base of the platform’s current 1.2m subscribers, who will now receive a ‘next-generation TV experience’ from the public broadcaster’s channels.
The main features of Connected Red Button are a combination of the traditional version and an adapted version of the BBC Website, offering integrated iPlayer catch-up to watch shows on-demand through a TV set regardless of whether its channel is on-air (such as BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, and CBeebies).
In addition, the BBC Connected Red Button will also enable online-exclusive video clips and news stories as an overlay to the main TV content for genres such as news and weather, while offering additional live streams and data for sports events, following on from the success of the ambitious 24-stream format used at the 2012 Olympic Games in London (England).
The BBC have announced that they intend to launch the service across other connected TV services ‘over the coming months’ with additional features and ‘functionality’ unveiled as time passes, with the corporation looking to redefine the way that interactive content is viewed, though it’s biggest potential broadcasting partner for the service, satellite broadcaster Sky, are not yet confirmed as being a part of the deal, as they stated of the current situation: “We have not yet entered into discussions with the BBC about Red Button video services streamed over IP, but we will keep the situation under review. In the meantime, the BBC will continue to support some satellite-based Red Button functionality for major shows and events. For popular events, such as Wimbledon and the Olympics, additional video streams broadcast via satellite would enable the BBC – and other broadcasters – to continue to cater to all 10 million Sky homes.”
Looking to cater to the needs of the estimated 22m UK connected TV viewers by 2016, BBC head of programmes/on-demand Daniel Danker noted of the service (which has been through three different incarnations, as BBC Text (1999), BBCi (2001), and current offering BBC Red Button (2008)): “[This brings] the internet together with live TV, while making the technology completely invisible. This is Red Button reinvented, and the beginning of the exciting future of television.”
Virgin Media ‘executive director of digital entertainment’ Cindy Rose added of the opportunity to be the first platform to carry the service: “The BBC understands as passionately as we do how important connected television is for home entertainment. We’re delighted the BBC is working with us to launch another milestone in interactive services. Our commitment to this partnership of innovation means Virgin Media TiVo customers are the first to experience the latest interactive services at the press of a button.”
Victoria Jaye, BBC ‘head of IPTV & TV online content’ summarised the ‘added value’ of Connected Red Button, stating: “With BBC Connected Red Button, we’re starting with the TV audience who love our broadcast output and we’re curating online content on the big screen in ways that add value to their TV viewing. The audience can sit back and relax – the internet just made TV better.”