BBC overhauls Red Button service for connected TVs


By Jessica Davies | News Editor

December 4, 2012 | 3 min read

The BBC has overhauled its red button service to provide a more seamless viewing experience between its online, TV and radio content via connected TVs.

The service, called Connected Red Button, will initially roll out across Virgin Media’s TiVo platform, installed in 1.2m UK homes, with the view to launching on other connected TVs and platforms next year.

The move means viewers will gain access to additional content including videos, news articles and images via the new service if they have a connected TV or set-top box. Those with neither can still access the traditional red button service, but the BBC will encourage those homes to use the new service if they already have a broadband connection.

Meanwhile viewers can also access off-air TV channels including BBC3, CBBC and CBeebies via the service, designed to connect them through to iPlayer in more seamless way.

More features will be rolled out next year, including the ability to restart live programmes that have already started on live TV.

BBC general manager Daniel Danker said the launch marks a major step in the broadcaster’s overall strategy to fuse the technical capabilities of the internet with the TV in a way consumers can understand and enjoy.

“It doesn’t feel like the internet on TV, it feels like TV, which is important for the mainstream audiences,” he said.

“The world is abuzz with talk about social TV, personalisation and second screen, all of which are important to us but all the data shows there is huge demand for red button, which continues to grow."

Demand for the BBC's red button service surged during the London Olympics with over half (56%) of the UK population using it during the games, according to Danker.

The launch signals the latest step in the broadcaster’s overarching online strategy, which focuses on consolidating its service around 10 key products and the four main screens – connected TVs, PCs, tablets and smartphones.

“One of the main challenges with this strategy is that we can’t keep launching apps for different channels and products," Danker said.

"This [connected red button service] will become a cocoon for our online strategy for TV. In time it will move beyond the TV but we don’t want to just build a while load of second screen apps – this service will become the vessel for the second screen in time…it’s important we start thinking less about the internet and TV as two separate worlds."


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