BBC Worldwide outlines OTT plans

BBC Worldwide plans to reboot its foreign over-the-top ambitions once it has built out support for registered sign-ins, according to BBC director of audiences Nick North.

iPlayer across four screens light backgroundSpeaking at MIPCOM here in Cannes, North said that the BBC’s commercial arm was looking to “review” its OTT stance – after formally shutting down its Global iPlayer on-demand initiative earlier this year – and was looking to add similar functionality to the UK ‘myBBC’ initiative abroad.

“We did experiment with an international iPlayer for a while. I think we’re going back to the drawing board,” said North. “Once we have built the technology for support of registration sign-ins that we have now done in the UK, I think we’re in a position perhaps to review that.”

Earlier this year the BBC announced plans to transform BBC Online in the UK with My BBC – a scheme designed to link up content and add new features and functionality. At MIPCOM, North said that this involved building sign-in functionality, customisation, personailsed recommendations and “opening up a new way of a more interactive relationship with the audience.”

“Because we’re licence fee funded, we’re looking to add value to our license fee payers from the UK PSB (public service broadcasting) service so that, perhaps through the process of registration, they will be able to gain access to BBC content on their mobile devices and other devices whilst abroad through the authentication process,” said North.

“We have a new service planned, an OTT service that will allow people access to more British talent, more British creativity.”

The comments come after BBC director general Tony Hall revealed at the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention last month that a BBC OTT service is in the works for the US market.

“Next year, we’re launching a new OTT video service in America offering BBC fans programmes they wouldn’t otherwise get – showcasing British actors, our programme-makers – and celebrating our culture,” said Hall at the time.

Speaking on a panel yesterday, North said that while the traditional pay TV model is “very much alive and well”, the BBC is spending a lot of time “looking at how younger audiences are behaving and what are their changing expectations towards: effortless discoverability of content; towards some connection through some social participation with content; and that control where they want to have everything, anytime, anywhere”.

Citing Radio 1 as an example, North said that the BBC had successfully transformed the youth-skewing radio station into a “multi-platform brand” that received something like 35 million hits on YouTube last month, along with millions more on the BBC iPlayer itself.

“We’re a broadcast video-on-demand service where you can watch live and watch on demand. We’ve extended the window to 30 days and it’s all about the user experience, the discoverability.

“What we’re now starting on the journey towards is to support that discoverability to watch whatever you want, on-demand, whether it be download or stream, to be able to make recommendations to the user based on previous behaviour, through sign-in and so-on. So it’s a very important part of what we do.”

Tags: BBC, MyBBC