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Jana Bennett on iPlayer

BBC Vision boss Jana Bennett used her keynote address at last week’s Banff TV Festival to talk, among other things, about how catch-up service iPlayer is extending the lifecycle of the UK public broadcaster’s shows.

Bennett on extending the life of a BBC show…
Extending the window of time in which a programme is available to allow it time to engage an audience has been a commonplace of scheduling on smaller digital channels for years via a pattern of multiple repeats. But for the BBC, in one sense, the life expectancy of our programmes has just increased significantly with the advent of iPlayer.

Bennett on iPlayer’s numbers…
Since public launch on 25th December last year it has been a huge success – with around 90 million requests to stream and download programmes and it ‘s continuing to grow. We expect shortly to see it break through the barrier of 1 million requests in a day.

Bennett on what’s popular on iPlayer…
On average a programme will deliver iPlayer requests representing around 2% of its linear first transmission audience. But a select few shows have got a much higher percentage. And the top three of these are all related to niche hits – programmes with cult followings: a documentary about comedy hit The Mighty Boosh got requests in iPlayer representing 30% of its first transmission audience.

Bennett on why iPlayer is only the beginning of the story…
Because when that iPlayer moment is over – the programme disappears and we are still having to apologise to the audience. And yet those programmes do still exist and increasingly may be available elsewhere on the web – on iTunes for example – or in other on demand offers like the BBC’s planned new commercial partnership with ITV and C4 – for which we are working to get regulatory approval soon.

That fact formed part of the thinking behind this – a permanent page for every episode of every programme the BBC has ever broadcast.

Bennett on the benefits of capturing BBC program information…
Each page is dependent on the power of programme information – of data – of metadata. Now that may sound dull – but let me tell you the data captured on these pages is going to be critical for us in the ongoing story of hits.

Because these permanent pages will always direct the audience to the programme – wherever it may be on the web – first in iPlayer – then elsewhere on bbc.co.uk or on iTunes or on any number of other on demand services including Kangaroo. Each page and clip will be promotional for that programme in perpetuity. They will offer the possibility of hits that go on and on – or are re-discovered when the time is right. Within three months we’d created over 160,000 individual pages.