April 19, 2007 |
One million hours of television and radio programming provided on-demand via the Web. That?s the BBC?s plan. The media colossus intends for an archive which will include many of its new and old recordings to be opened to the public if a trial to selected 20,000 UK-based individuals proves successful.
?Successful? can mean a lot of things, of course, but we presume they?re looking to see if such a catalogue is something even desired by the population (the trial is similar to polling in the political realm). With the pipes of the UK?s (and the world?s) broadband networks getting larger and more accepting of high-quality media transfers, there?s little holding the BBC back in terms of the UK?s telecom infrastructure. The company has only to witness whether the on-demand archive is in demand. We think it certainly will be.
20,000 trial testers seems to be a good count with which to start, though the fact that there are millions upon millions of peoples currently connected to the world via high-speed DSL, copper wire, and fiber optic feeds means there is simply no way to gauge a site?s or a service?s popularity unless it?s offered out publicly ? to all.
Nonetheless, the cautionary half step it?s taken with the announcement of the trial is understandable. An old media mainstay shouldn?t be expected to throw out thousands of hours of video and audio for all to see and hear without testing the waters of the new medium. It?s spend decades conditioned to cater programming to television sets only, and just the last few years has received repeated calls to make accessible an archive to visitors of its website. To be quick and hasty would be very unlike the BBC.
The company has opened some content for viewers on the Web in the past. The Motion Gallery, for instance, has been an attraction for many with a desire to see high-def delights.
But the company?s choice to offer many more hours of a much more diverse selection of programming is something it?s doing as a definitely first. And if the increasing demand for legitimate, legal content easily accessible and downloadable is any indication, the BCC will see only good things come of this.
Well, maybe not all things about the move will make them happy. The bandwidth bills won?t be pretty – in the short term, at least.
This is the biggest move yet by any major media company to present television, film, and radio productions and recordings in such a large quantity to an online audience. Larger than that available on iTunes, and possibly larger than what Joost will have to offer, even with it?s recently announced partnership with CBS. (Nevermind that Joost?s programming is not archived and won?t feature an accessible history of video.)
It would be good to see the trial lead into a public release in a few months, and perhaps even sooner. The announcement of such grand intensions followed by a lengthy wait before the official launch of the archive wouldn?t be in the interest of any media house, particularly one of such size and esteem as the BBC.