The human touch over algorithms: how the BBC Player helps viewers discover content

BBC Player uses a human touch in content discovery

In today’s content rich world, where viewers have an abundance of content streams to choose from, discovering new content, even on a single platform, can be a daunting task.

The BBC Player aims to help viewers with this daunting task by using a human touch according to Ryan Shiotani, vice president, content, Asia, BBC Worldwide.

“Consumers are confused about where to find content in this world of unlimited choice. So clear navigation, recommendation, and curation becomes critical in this new world,” said Shiotani.

“BBC Player doesn’t currently use a recommendation engine. It starts by combining the natural pull of ‘super content,’ including big shows with an international fan base such as Planet Earth and Top Gear, with the natural presentation and signposting capabilities of our brands. Adopting an editorial approach on top of is then the next step in making content come alive for the audience. In essence, it’s about super content and super brands, and expert editorial curation,” he added.

What is super content? According to Shiotani, it’s content that can cut through the noise and resonate with consumers.

“When we talk about super content and brands, we are referring to content and brands that cut through the clutter – world class, super global hits – like Sherlock and Planet Earth II, as well as strong brands that resonate with consumers – as a way for them to navigate the service,” he said.

These hit programmes can then serve as a reference point for viewers in their navigation through the platform, allowing them to discover new content.

“Hit programmes and brands serve as signposts and landmarks, guiding viewers to and through the service. Once there, they are able watch their shows from their favourite brands and discover similar programmes,” said Shiotani

“BBC Earth, for example, has been a leading factual linear channel since its launch in Asia in 2015. Its strong brand recognition and equity allows BBC Player users to navigate via the BBC Earth brand to find and discover content they love on the service. (e.g. fans of Planet Earth II may uncover the original Planet Earth on BBC Player, and then discover things like the ‘Enter Tomorrow’ collection with shows unique to BBC Player like Should You Really Play Video Games, How to Find Love Online and The Immortalist within the BBC Earth branded area,” he added.

The human touch can lead to an editorially curated experience in discovering new content, and the BBC have more experience than anyone else in their own content.

“For the Lunar New Year celebrations, for example, the BBC’s editorial team created a tailor-made collection of relevant content from across several different brands and genres – including documentary, travel, food, and pre-school entertainment. And, for Top Gear fans, we put together a collection of high octane motoring shows including the latest series of Top Gear, Extra Gear, Chris Harris on Cars and Mud Sweat and Gears,” said Shiotani.

“Ultimately, the BBC knows its content and brands better than anybody else. And it’s this level of expertise that makes it possible to create a service that’s editorially vibrant and fresh, bringing new content to viewers in new and engaging ways,” he added.

BBC Worldwide launched the BBC Player, its only direct subscription service to BBC content outside the UK, in Singapore in late 2016 and has since rolled it out to nearby countries in Asia.

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