Build then advertise it, and they will come: how the iPlayer delivers and relies on BBC’s platform-neutral offering

Iplayer
news that the BBC’s iPlayer delivered 42 million downloads in the first quarter of 2008 confirms the success of the BBC’s online offering [source: MediaWeek].  it doesn’t come as a surprise.  the player is simple to use and easy to navigate, and crucially the streaming option allows you to dip into programmes without the drawn-out drama of downloading and saving to your hard-drive.

it marks the most important of what is a range of moves to ensure platform neutrality of the BBC’s offering.  hot on the heels of it’s Virgin Media and iPhone deals comes the news that BBC will be joining forces with Wii to deliver it’s content on Nintendo’s home entertainment system.

the strategy is as spot on as you can get as we approach digital switch off.  Henry Jenkins in Convergence Culture introduced us to the notion that it’s not technology (and applications) that’s converging but rather content.  we’re consuming converged content on our terms across a range of platforms to suit our needs.  brands and other advertisers could learn a thing or two.

that said, you can sympathise with the criticisms of commercial broadcasters, especially those beyond page one of the EPG.  the BBC – despite the fallout of it’s current restructuring, has investment to spare in developing the iPlayer – it’s remit to digitise the nation being a keystone of it’s license fee settlement.  they are in an enviable position, being a broadcaster that knows what you have to do is one thing; having the investment to make it happen is quite another.

of course the other benefit of being a big broadcaster is being able to cross-promote your platforms.  the iPlayer is as reliant on the eyeballs delivered by it’s more established parent as the parent is on the 15-34 reach delivered by its new offspring.  and the BBC trumped it again here.  their penguin trailer on April 1st was just class.  enjoy.

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