Can we make it easy to publish audio versions of TV programmes onto BBC Sounds?
As audience members, we build habits around watching TV shows, whether it's catching every episode of Happy Valley as it comes out, or tuning in to see this week's topical debate on Question Time. Sometimes we can't always catch the episode live, and of course we have the option to catch-up on-demand on iPlayer.
However, current affairs programmes like Question Time have a shorter shelf-life — if it's been more than a couple of days, there's less incentive to bother with catch-up.
What if we had the option to listen to that episode of Question Time we missed last night — perhaps on the Friday morning commute — in the car, on the train or while walking?
We were approached by a colleague who works on new formats who asked if we would be able to help him make audio versions of programmes like Question Time available on BBC Sounds. Having previously investigated this possibility, we were able to quickly put together a prototype.
We take the VOD (video on demand) asset from the media store, convert it to audio, add the BBC Sounds ident (you know the one: BBC Sounds — music, radio, podcasts), copy the metadata from the TV version and publish a new audio episode to the BBC's media system.
Question Time already had a brand on BBC Sounds — from a previous podcast series related to the show — so we were able to use this, meaning that any prior subscribers would see the audio episodes as they were published.
The daily politics show Politics Live followed Question Time's lead and have also been publishing audio episodes.
The VodSounds tool makes it very easy for programme teams to republish their TV shows onto BBC Sounds. It's very low effort and can be done entirely from a web browser, without the need for any audio/video editing tools:
These programmes are now off-air for the summer, but you can subscribe to them on BBC Sounds and listen along when they're back:
Now that we've proven that republishing from iPlayer to Sounds can be done with minimal effort, the New Formats team will consider which other programmes will be well suited to the transition. It won't work for everything — but in cases like these where it helps people keep up with their viewing and listening habits, it's a great help.
- We built a working prototype
- We tested the prototype with its intended user and added features based on feedback
- The tool has been used in a trial for Question Time and Politics Live
- The new formats team will decide which programmes will be suitable as audio only episodes