The BBC is drastically reducing the video streams attached to its Red Button service across all platforms. Julian Clover looks at its future.
The BBC this week officially confirmed what had been known since the publication of Delivering Quality First – that the linear video streams delivered as part of the Red Button service were to be reduced to one.
Delivering Quality First, the thinly veiled plans to reduce costs and some services across the BBC, was approved by the BBC Trust in May. It said the BBC should drop content such as concerts from BBC Radio 2 or live simulcasts of Radio 5 Live phone ins and concentrate on coverage of live events.
Those who want to watch a radio phone in – or at least a presenter talking into a microphone – can do so online.
If the cost of linear video channels is too expensive when the majority of the UK has digital TV, then surely it was always the case. Just that there are better uses for public money such as an HD channel that everyone can see.
Not wishing to deprive the Paralympic organization of funding, it seems peculiar that in this day and age two public broadcasters should compete against each other for the 2016 TV rights.
It was sport that added to the BBC Red Button; even if some of those events had been squeezed out of the regular TV schedule in favour of antiques. Such sports, like the French Open Tennis, are becoming attractive for other basic broadcasters looking to fill the schedule.
This however is not the end of the Red Button. Statements from the BBC clearly have an eye on the connected TV market, even if there is little sign of movement, as indicated by the latest stats from the BBC iPlayer.
When it comes to access the catch-up service Connected TVs are still very much in the minority, at 1% the figure has barely changed in a year. So an opportunity, we hope.
In the meantime we should also have a hard think about text services. With all the emphasis on second screens one has to assume that for news and information, people will increasingly turn to the tablet, though hopefully for an app or service attached to the broadcaster.