The BBC is edging towards more IP streams, but it is far from the final press of the Red Button, writes Julian Clover.
The King is dead, long live the King. Don’t worry, content hasn’t died or anything like that, but in the week that the BBC confirmed plans to scale back its Red Button coverage plans have been firmed up over on which devices viewers will be able to watch the BBC’s 24-stream coverage of London 2012. In short, you name it, there will be an app there. This is the all-new Red Button.
Some thought into what gets offered on the Red Button was clearly needed. Additional sports coverage – even if it has sometimes been squeezed off the linear channels – is clearly valued by the viewer. Other elements less so, we may have talked about Walking with Dinosaurs, but who remembers the Ten O’Clock News Extra?
In the statement from the BBC Trust on the plans released through Delivering Quality First it was confirmed that the number of video streams available on satellite and cable from nine to one – the BBC entertainingly described this as “providing a more consistent service”.
That capacity will of course come in handy for planned new HD services.
It seems to be the case the BBC is moving towards more web streams that find their way into the new connected devices with the Olympics providing an obvious boost to the smart TV sector. Research into the lack of connectivity seems to fall into the inbox on an almost daily basis, and the BBC is arguably carrying out its public service role in helping us connect it all up, even if it turns out that YouView doesn’t find itself on the list.
If YouView had got its act together then it would already be a part of the majority of connected TVs – in the same way that its distant relative HbbTV is on the continent. Instead we are left to market forces, so the Olympic statement had an interesting qualification referring to the BBC apps that will be on Sony Smart TVs (2011 and 2012 models). Is this the shape of things to come as the BBC Executive submits its development plans to the BBC Trust for evaluation.
Standby then for in 18 months time, when the BBC has established its service, that the commercial companies that benefit start complaining about licence fee money being used to undermine their business. My hunch however is that more people want to watch EastEnders at a time of their choosing than a channel about windsurfing.