I’m a big fan of the various BBC data services and the way they all integrate with each other. Both the services themselves and the standard identifier codes they use.
What this basically means is that, when these services roll out more widely across the BBC site (remembering that the BBC site is a lot more than one big website – it is a collection of fiefdoms, held tightly and with a passion by a number of different teams and departments.
The data sites like /programmes, /music, /iplayer (although that is really based around /programmes and in future /events basically allow for persistent and constant content in a human and machine readable way.
For example a BBC programme will have a unique idetifies such as, we’ll use mine for this example: p001d7vp.
If you follow the link underneath that code it will take you to the /programmes page for my show ‘BBC Jersey Introducing’. The show does have its own section of the BBC Jersey website and you could argue that, as it is part of the Introducing family – it could do with being in the Introducing look and feel – but as it is broadcast on BBC Radio Jersey – that’s how it looks.
However, what /programmes and this seperate of data, design and structure provides is the flexibility to use the data contained underneath p001d7vp in a number of different ways.
For example it could be tied into /music (and probably will in the future) so that I can publish my playlist, you can click on the bands I played, find out who else has played them, listen to that show, find out more about the band and their other songs – see where they are being played.
This could also then in future tie into /events and show you when they’re playing on BBC Shows or when they HAVE played on BBC Shows which in turn could be tied into the new /buyersguide (currently Archers only) to show where you can buy tracks from those sessions on the internet.
Which actually brings me on to the point of this blog post – the newly launched BBC Buyers Guide. Something that seems so logical, and would be logical if it wasn’t for the way the BBC is funded.
Basically it uses the standard PIP identifier for a show to tell you where you can buy audio/video/book content associated with that particular programme – although right now its only The Archers.
But don’t worry the BBC gets no kick backs from the companies they list. Mark Friend wrote on the BBC Internet Blog: “And just to reassure you suppliers do not make any payments to the BBC, either for listing as part of this service or for any click-throughs.”
Mark went on to say that: “We hope that the ‘Buyer’s Guide’ will go some way to providing users with the opportunity to find out more about their favourite BBC content.”
I’m guessing the plan is that I’ll be able to go to the /programmes page for say Top Gear and then from there I’ll see a Buyers Guide link where I can find out all the sites online selling downloads, books, dvd’s, music etc associated with that programme.
It’s basically a BBC only version of Kelkoo but without ANY recommendations – it is a list of all the places you can get the product online – at least all the places that meet a set of strict, pre-published criteria for listing.
These include purchasing security, data protection and customer support.
In fact there is more information on why this is a justified new area for the BBC to go into on the Buyer’s Guide about page.
The BBC’s Public Purposes state that “the BBC is a trusted guide to the digital world for the inexperienced or unsure, a safe place to be for the young, a reliable and accurate on-air and online source for the information seeker, and a challenging and involving partner for the more advanced user.”
Research conducted on behalf of the BBC revealed that buying and consuming media online can be a confusing and daunting experience for new users, particularly those with concerns around security and legality.
Those of us that are familiar with and regular users of sites like Audible or the iTunes store might find that a little odd but there are people, more than not, who aren’t comfortable buying things online or even necessarily know you CAN buy BBC programmes online.
My only concern is that it might bring the ‘why should I pay again for BBC content that I’ve paid for with my licence fee‘ lot out of the woodwork.
The response to that of course is that the BBC pays a fee for a limited number of plays of the content using the licence fee and has to pay again to do other things with it.
That money goes to writers, directors, musicians, songwriters, actors etc…
So if the Beeb wanted to make something (there are some exceptions to this – non scripted content, wholly BBC owned content – but not many) available to download for ever so you could do what you like with it, or wanted to replay it online for ever – they would have to pay again.
That isn’t really a great use of the licence fee – it would be much better to play it within the agreed limits (e.g. two airings and seven day catchup) and then make it available at a reasonable price for people that want it outside that window and to keep for everl.
As the /buyersguide site expands, and as all the other data sites expand – there’s going to be some interesting pieces of digital content coming out – show pages that pull in details of the number of plays a track has received and where, links to places you can buy a copy of live bands performing on the BBC and where else on the BBC they have or will be playing in the future.