Could the BBC open up the iPlayer to social media/indie video?

7 11 2008

erikhuggers460There’s a very interesting interview with Eric Hugger, the Beeb’s digital tsar over at The Guardian. It is very pleasing to hear that he hasn’t entirely forsaken his web background and talking about making the iPlayer available internationally and even embracing social media.

‘He said the iPlayer should be opened up internationally, that needs to introduce more social media and that the corporation is working to develop industry standards so that content can be developed more easily for a range of different devices.’

So what does introducing more social media mean? Quite probably a few more blogs and wikis on the BBC homepages. However it did get me thinking as to quite how the BBC could atone for its previously very sniffy attitude towards social media (ie independent) content.

Imagine how cool it would be for the iPlayer to also offer access to vidcasts like Viropop, Megawhat, ChannelFlip and (cough) PopJunkieTV. It would give the Beeb an opportunity to bring new British web based content providers to a much larger audience. Maybe shows which started in bedrooms in north London could even up as BBC comissioned programmes. The start ups would love the wider distribution for their shows too.

Not only would it deliver the iPlayer loads of extra content, but it would also take away a USP of sites like Joost, BT Vision etc and strengthen the iPlayer’s position from whatever Kangaroo and Hulu offer when they launch in the UK next year.

Ok, so there may be some issues around BBC brand values and advertising strategies to be overcome, but the move would send a clear signal to the many critics who think the BBC is stifling new media innovation in the UK that the corporation is opening up to social media.

The really exciting part could be when the iPlayer emerges as software for the main home TV screen. How cool would be to have access to independent vidcasts on what will almost certainly become the de facto Internet TV standard in the UK?

Well just a thought.