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BBC overhauls Red Button TV service

Brings better connectivity and streamlined content
Tue Dec 04 2012, 12:24
The BBC held a press conference to show off the new updates coming to its Red Button TV service

BRITISH BROADCASTER the BBC announced an overhauled Red Button television service today, integrating "a connected experience triggered right from TV".

The update builds on the widely used red button service, but the BBC has completely reinvented it with a redesigned dashboard and additional features as well as now relying on an internet connection to deliver more content and a "seamless experience".

BBC viewers that press the red button on their remote controls can now access what the broadcaster calls the five core facets of its entertainment services - TV, news, sport, weather and radio - in a completely new way.

Speaking at a launch event in the BBC Broadcast studios today, BBC manager of programmes and on demand service Daniel Danker said the organisation has built on the red button service because of its popularity with its audience.

"[Audiences] can watch any of BBC channels effortlessly, viewing programmes from all BBC channels day or night, discovering new gems and immersing themselves in news, sport of weather in a very local way," Danker said.

For example, on the traditional red button service, viewers would choose from programmes being broadcast and had to watch them from the point they were at.

Danker continued, "With the update, audiences don't have to wait for programmes on the schedule. Clicking on BBC 4, for example you can just watch it now, with it linking up to BBC Iplayer without it really feeling like you've launched an app."

Powered by BBC's Iplayer catchup service, which is "inherent" in the technology, audiences don't need the app to run in the background. However, the TV box the red button service is being accesed from does need to be hooked up to the internet. Those without an internet connection will be sent to the trational red button service.

BBC said its news service was also important to be integrated into the red button, so it added the ability for audiences to read news stories while watching TV. News clips can also be viewed from a scrolling menu so the whole news broadcast doesn't have to be watched, allowing customers to access what's relevant to them.

"It's like you're controlling the news," Danker said. "Audiences don't even have to know there is a news app. It's all part of one service and integrated. They can also switch between stories."

The Radio tab brings catch up Radio to the TV. This is a very simple service but Danker said it was important to integrate it as often the TV in the home is connected to the best speakers in the house.

The final tab, the weather tab, is the same service as seen before in the traditional red button service, but it now knows the viewer's location and displays the weather for where they are. BBC has also made it simple for viewers to find weather forecasts from differenty locations by suggesting words from typed letters in a drop down menu.

BBC's overhauled red button service is launching only on Virgin Media's Tivo service, available from today. However, Danker said it will roll out across services such as Freesat and Freeview as well as mobile devices throughout 2013.

As for Sky users, Danker said he "doesn't have a line of sight" for the new red button coming to Sky devices due to its closed system that makes it difficult for developers. µ


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