The BBC is reducing its video component of BBC Red Button from five streams to one on Sky, FreeSat and Virgin Media, in a move that is sure to irk subscribers.
The reduction will take place on 15 October and will mean Sky, FreeSat and Virgin Media customers will be limited to the same BBC Red Button content as Freeview. While the BBC attributes the decision to cost cutting, the Corporation is keen to emphasise that this is not the start of a plan to get rid of the BBC Red Button altogether.
“This change in no way signals the demise of BBC Red Button,” wrote development editor Tom Williams in a BBC blog post.
“The BBC is committed to maintaining a vibrant and popular red button service. Twenty million people a month press red on the BBC and our ambition is to develop the service and increase the size of our audience.”
The decision comes after the BBC was praised for its Wimbledon and London 2012 Olympic Games coverage this summer, which offered viewers multiple streams from which to choose. Future big, live sports events will subsequently be limited to just one stream via the red button, though the BBC will continue to provide multiple options online.
Perhaps in an attempt to prove that it is not neglecting the BBC Red Button service altogether, Williams spoke of the arrival of the Connected Red Button service that will integrate the BBC Red Button with BBC Online via a connected television.
Highlights include the new "live restart" feature that will enable viewers to rewind a show to the beginning during its live broadcast.
However, the problem the BBC faces, and more so its viewers, is that when the Connected Red Button arrives – the first version is expected this year – it will be dependent on consumers having an internet-connected TV. Something not all Sky, FreeSat or Virgin Media customers have.
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