BBC to launch first ‘companion screen’ app for Antiques Roadshow

The BBC plans to launch its first ‘companion screen’ app associated with its Antiques Roadshow show in September.

Victoria Jaye, head of IPTV and TV online content at the BBC, revealed at the Connected TV World Summit yesterday that the first public launch of a companion screen service will be an app based around the popular BBC1 antiques and collectables show. The BBC will introduce an app for smartphone, tablet and desktop that allows viewers to guess the value of collectables brought by members of the public on the show. There will also be a red button version of the app available.

The app, which will also feature background stores about the collectables featured on the show, will be introduced by Antiques Roadshow presenters. “We believe we’re building on a genuine audience need,” she said.

Jaye said that over the next 18 months the BBC would focus on developing a handful of pilot versions of synchronous companion screen apps that would build on audience needs related to programmes as they are being watched, using its experience with red button services as a guide.

The BBC has already piloted apps around its Frozen Planet and Secret Fortune series on BBC1.

Secret Fortune, a  quiz show, has been accompanied for some time by a playalong service accessible via the red button. Jaye said that the BBC wanted to develop a companion app taking people on their own journey through the format either playing alone or in a multiplayer format. “It’s all about togetherness,” she said, either with the family or with the audience at large. She said that an app where the audience selected answers on the iPad, similar to what was happening on the show, worked well.

At the other end of the programming spectrum the BBC also developed an app for natural history programme Frozen Planet, based on information about the animals and giving viewers the opportunity to identify the app as a ‘favourite’, which enabled them to return and look up information after the show had aired. Jaye said this appealed to families with children. Audiences particularly like the ability to ‘favourite’ the content and come back to it. She said they also expressed a preference for ancillary content from the show’s makers rather than from a third party source like Wikipedia. “They wanted people to orientate them into the companion experience,” she said.

Jaye said that the companion screen market was still at a very early stage. One of the main challenges was scale, she said. To enable apps to work, “we need to get numbers of people onto these platforms”, said Jaye.

Tags: BBC, technology, UK