BBC Programmes: new features

Following the launch of the BBC’s Programmes website in October we’ve just launched a few new features – Radio Player calls to action and tags.

iPlayer Radio calls to action on episode pages

Radio Player CTAs

You can now launch the ‘iPlayer Radio’ to listen to our radio programmes from episode pages and see how long you’ve got left to listen from the various aggregation pages.
Passive CTAs


We are piloting the use of tags with Radio 4 programmes. We want to help people ‘browse by meaning’ to find programmes by topics, people, places related to the programmes they are interested in. So if you look at most of the Radio 4 episode pages you will find a set of tags – selecting a tag will take you to a page with all programmes with that tag.


6 responses to “BBC Programmes: new features”

  1. nice

    when can you do call to action for streaming iplayer tv?

    It must be an easy hack given the same episode UIDs on /programmes and /iplayer/item urls

    c’mon, they’re both betas…

    – oh, and what happened to the search box on /programmes?

  2. Glad you like it Tom.

    TV iPlayer on its way soon – but as an embedded player rather than pop-up CTA – its not too difficult but of course we also need to know if/when the media is available, in addition to where to find it.

    You should expect to see very regular incremental updates to the site (falling forward fast…). Since we had radio CTAs and tags sorted, we think they are useful and wanted to get it out so people can use it (rather than wait for the iPlayer work). But rest assured more is on its way – including iPlayer TV :)

  3. Cool!

    Can I put in a request for you to get the RESTy *.xml and Accept: text/xml methods working (assuming you’re porting the rails implementation)?

  4. The two things I spend the most time doing in the Radio Player – sorry, iPlayer Radio – are (a) scrolling through lists to find a programme I listen to on a regular basis (typically BBC7 comedy that isn’t available as podcasts) or (b) looking for new things I think I might like.

    How far away are we from the radio equivalent of the Youtube style recommendations screen you get after watching a TV programme on iPlayer, and keeping a list of your favourite programmes?

    Although actually, browsing around /programmes, the way the former is categorised is perfect.

    How are you creating all the meta data – properly as part of the broadcast chain, or is there a fair degree of manual intervention by FM&T with regexps and lookup tables?

    I assume the idea is that people can embed stuff from the iPlayer on their own websites eventually, and it’ll fail gracefully when the viewing period expires…

    /programmes is very clean and seemingly very complete, very tempting to make it my starting point for finding things to listen to whilst I write PHP code (sorry, had to ruin it for you at the end there…) Nice blog btw.

  5. I notice that there are still a few ‘data issues’ (duplicates, and so on).

    Would be interested to read about how you deal with these. It would be good, for example, if users could suggest ‘clean ups’. Would also be good if, when two ‘programmes’ get merged, one of the old pages returns a 301 Moved Permanently to the merged page.

  6. William

    Hopefully /programmes will help you keep track of those programmes you listen to most frequently – we are working on adding RSS and ATOM feeds soon which should make it even easier.

    The automated recommendations are a lot tougher. We have a plan for how to do it, but we need to make sure that the solution provides meaningful results and that it scales (we have c. 1500 programmes per day). But rest assured it is on its way.

    In terms of how we create the metadata. It is created as part of the broadcast chain – hooked into the existing billings process – although for radio, because much of its live it does require additional data to be entered if we want the description to reflect what actually happened on the show. We are working on providing track listing information for music shows – this will largely be generated automatically from the broadcast systems. We are trying to automate as much as possible.

    Yes, iPlayer has an embed feature, we just need to bring radio into iPlayer proper so you can have that feature for audio as well as TV.

    I’m really glad you like the design – you have Jamie to thank for that.


    Yeah there are still loads of data issues. Which is a real shame, unfortunately its something that the team can’t easily solve although thankfully others are on the case so with a bit of luck we should see improvements. And yes were we’ve merged IDs we’ll return a 301.

    I like the idea of getting users to suggest fixes – although I would hope that the BBC can sort out the duplicates. It seems better to get users to offer enhanced data.

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