Sunday, June 17, 2007

BBC, the end of traditional control

Always interesting to hear what one of the world's largest public broadcasters is doing with the world's largest search engine. Mark Thompson, DG of the BBC, spoke recently at the Google Zeitgeist conference about sharing content on the Web and how BBC is changing with technology. There are two curves, one of which the BBC does control through its editorial selection process, the other growth curve is what the audience is up to, for which the BBC has no control. So the current thinking is to play with short-form content on You-tube and look at other ways to get high quality, long form content onto traditional devices like TV screens. Interesting question, about 4 minutes before the end, about the bandwidth issues BBC can expect when the i-Player really does take off next year. The prediction given is that 25% of the broadband bandwidth will be linked to rich content providers like the BBC. Personally, I think there will be hybrid systems for quite a while. It will be a long time before my cable company or ADSL can provide the kind of HD bandwidth I am getting now through satellite. The types of technologies like Joost and Babelgum are therefore very interesting as one way of tackling the bandwidth crunch.

Mark also mentions that 46 million people access BBC content from abroad per month and the total downloads are now running at 1200 Terabyte a month. That means Internet usage is approaching BBC World Service radio usage in some overseas markets, especially when international broadcasters measure their audiences as anyone who has listened "at least once a week".

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