BBC: “Online is a wonderful canvas for us”

Daniel Danker, General Manager of On Demand at the BBC

Daniel Danker, General Manager of On Demand at the BBC

Daniel Danker, General Manager of On Demand at the BBC, on giving audiences a “virtual ticket” to the London Olympics, the three strategies for BBC iPlayer, and his plans to integrate it with the recently-announced Connected Red Button service.

Daniel will be speaking at the TV Connect 2013 event taking place in London on 19-21 March 2013. For more information and to register, please visit

Hi Daniel, it must have been a great relief that iPlayer didn’t buckle under the strain of the 2012 Olympics. Why do you think it was such a hit with viewers?

The London 2012 Olympics were a terrific moment for BBC Online.

Our aim was to give all audiences a virtual ticket to the games, making it so they “never miss a moment” of the action. The success of the experience we delivered I think is due in large part to the choice and flexibility we offered audiences.

People could watch the games across a whole host of devices and screens, from PC to mobile to tablet to TV. We also augmented the live and catch-up video action with a tremendous amount of real-time data that complemented the video experience seamlessly.

The whole was much greater than the sum of the parts, but the product was simple and elegant so the games themselves took centre stage. It was certainly as much of an unforgettable experience for our audience as it was for us in building it.

Where do you see the future of iPlayer heading in 2013, beyond ubiquitous availability?

We have three strategies for BBC iPlayer: to go beyond the PC, beyond catch-up, and beyond the tech-savvy.

With iPlayer available on over 650 platforms and devices, we have certainly made tremendous progress on ubiquitous availability. Even more so now that audiences can download programmes to a mobile or tablet and consume them offline.

Alongside this ubiquity, we’re focused on two themes: making BBC iPlayer just as easy to use as channel flipping on a television, and expressing the BBC’s editorial voice within the product.

That editorial voice is all about bringing familiar programme and channel brands to the foreground, putting curation at the core of the experience so we build on the decades of experience the BBC has in introducing audiences to programmes they love, and turning iPlayer into a platform for the creative and editorial teams at the BBC.

Creativity is at the heart of the BBC, and online is a wonderful canvas for us to bring that creativity to audiences.

How do you plan to integrate it further with the newly-revealed Connected Red Button service?

The Connected Red Button brings BBC TV, Radio, and online seamlessly together in the simplest way possible: audiences press the red button on the remote control to access a wealth of online content, catch up on programmes, access news and sport clips, get local weather, listen to the radio.

Crucially, while the Connected Red Button is built on internet technologies and accesses content that is also available on the web, the experience feels like TV and is inspired by all the things that have made TV and the traditional Red Button so successful.

So in many ways the integration of iPlayer with the Connected Red Button has already begun, but audiences will find the experience so seamless that they may not even notice the transition from broadcast to broadband.

Red Button has been the BBC’s means of delivering companion experiences for over 13 years on the TV; in 2013 we will also begin to provide more of those companion experiences in a connected product.

What preparations are you involved in for the delivery of iPlayer content via 4G mobile networks?

Transparently, very few. For now, truly ubiquitous 3G is much more important to our audiences than the increase in bandwidth offered by 4G networks, so our focus is on working with mobile operators to continue to drive breadth and consistency of the mobile data experience, whether on 3G or 4G.

In parallel, we will also seek to make full use of the speed that 4G offers to deliver higher quality video (particularly on tablets), and fast programme downloads for viewing offline.

Imagine loading up your mobile or tablet with hours of great programmes as you’re on your way to the airport, so you can enjoy them on the flight or abroad when you don’t have a connection!

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