Daniel Danker, General Manager of On Demand at the BBC, has suggested that the interactive ‘Red Button’ used on digital TV services will be given a new lease of life, taking advantage of new web-based technologies that deliver richer, more visually-enticing experiences.
Speaking at the Future of Broadcasting Conference in London on the subject of integrating online and traditional TV, Danker noted that thirteen years ago this week, the BBC launched the first interactive experience for Wimbledon audiences via the Red Button, which had helped the BBC define what Red Button could deliver to its audiences. He claimed that Red Button had gone from success to success, with a third of the population of the UK pressing Red on a weekly basis.
He admitted that Red Button had its limitations, because it relies entirely on broadcast technologies, competing with other channels for spectrum. “We’re reducing the amount of video streams from six to one,” he advised, suggesting this gave the BBC an opportunity to give Red Button a new lease of life, taking advantage of new web-based technologies that deliver richer, more visually-enticing experiences. The initiative would connect the very best of traditional Red Button with the breadth and depth of BBC Online, according to Danker.
He said the new ‘Connected’ Red Button would become the foundation for interactivity around the BBC’s television channels on the TV and set the benchmark for seamlessly bringing broadcast television together with the Internet.
He advised that audiences would be able to experience this first-hand during the Olympics, where they would be able to watch 24 live channels, in HD, available exclusively online but delivered to the TV in a way that blends the media and makes the technology truly invisible.
In a subsequent BBC Internet blog, he said that Red Button might have started simplistically as a way for the BBC to provide audiences with instant, highly relevant information right on the TV. “And what a success it’s been, still continuing its impressive growth over a decade after it was first unveiled. But while some might have expected Red Button to slowly be replaced with the web across an assortment of devices, no one would deny that the simplicity and ease of Red Button is as important today as when it was first introduced.”