BBC Connected Red Button blurs line between TV and web content

UK broadcaster the BBC has launched Connected Red Button, further blending web TV with live broadcasting, and kicking things off with an appearance on Virgin Media TiVo boxes. The new service redresses existing BBC internet TV features like iPlayer, BBC News, Sport, Weather, and other content including local, into a new interface suited for big-screen browsing, and in a curated fashion which the BBC claims will cut down on choice-overload.

Catch-up TV will be included, with shows from all of the BBC channels, and there will be behind-the-scenes content from sports and other events. The BBC already offers "Red Button" services via traditional broadcast, including news, weather, and other content, but by using internet streaming rather than the broadcast signal, the amount of data on offer can increase considerably.

Initially, 1.2m Virgin Media TiVo boxes will be compatible with the new Connected Red Button services, though the BBC says that will be extended to other internet-connected TVs "over the coming months." We'd expect to see web-enabled set-top boxes from Freeview, YouView, Freesat, and others join in the fun in time.

According to the BBC Internet blog, meanwhile, phones and tablets could eventually be integrated, with the hint of second-screen style content shown on both big-screen and mobile device. There's also the possibility of retroactive updates for existing web-capable AV kit to get Connected Red Button service.

"Throughout 2012 the BBC has also been engaging with a number of TV manufacturers and platform operators regarding our connected TV application plans and the related technical specifications and certification requirements" Matt Coulson, executive product manager for Red Button says. "We'll be rolling out Connected Red Button to a range of connected TV devices during 2013 and in many cases 2012 TVs will also be upgraded to Connected Red Button."

You'll need to have a Virgin TiVo box in the UK in order to try the Connected Red Button service out today.