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BBC follows in Netflix's footsteps using online viewing data to inform commissioning decisions


By Gillian West, Social media manager

May 7, 2016 | 2 min read

The BBC is taking a leaf out of Netflix's book using online viewing data to help decide which programmes to make.

Part of the myBBC project, announced by director general Tony Hall last year, the move hopes to "reinvent public service broadcasting through data".

In addition to online viewing data the BBC is also experimenting with using social media reaction from Twitter and Facebook to help guide commissioning decisions.

So far the project has gathered the data from more than 6 million BBC iD users with Phil Fearnley, who oversees the project, assuring viewers that though the data gathered would not supersede editorial judgement, it would help the corporation do a better job of giving licence fee payers what they want.

"We are capturing 800m events a day and rather than just looking at more traditional terms at Barb figures, and genres, and more demographic type data, we are now able to see this person who listened to this and also watched that, That data is a very different type of data set," said Fearnley.

"We are in the process of experimentation in a number of areas. Having access to real behavioural data of audiences certainly helps us with decisions about commissioning."

Of Twitter and Facebook, Fearnley said the BBC was using social listening tools to "look at conversations" to make decisions about "whether we should commission certain types of content" from how "people are talking about it on the Twittersphere."

The overall aim of MyBBC is to move beyond a broadcast model and take advantage of interacting with BBC audiences on different channels, said Fearnley, with BBC iD offering users tailored recommendations based on their viewing habits along with notifications for new content.

Reports suggest that though 6 million people have signed up only 10 per cent are using it every day.

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