Tag Archives: television

iPlayer downtime last night


Last night I sat down with the wife to watch Top Gear. We realised we hadn’t recorded it, so we went to iPlayer to watch it. Unfortunately iPlayer was down last night, presenting a rather humble and plain looking ‘403 Error’.

We look after some rather large sites at Endava, and I can only imagine what the poor techies at the BBC were going through last night – undoubtedly trying to roll back the latest code or environment changes, or work out where the extra traffic was coming from (simultaneously trying to work out what to do with it).

At times like that, I think that I think differently to other users – I start feeling sorry for the service provider (and specifically, the individuals there) rather than a ‘typical’ consumer complaining about where the service has gone.

The infamous England goal during the World Cup was the same – as soon as the advert on ITV HD came on during matchplay, my stomach curled up and I thought “someone feels really bad for this” – despite me missing out on the England goal at the time… although I must add that the conspiracy theorist in me questions whether it was a publicity stunt or not.

A client (who came from a traditional TV background) once said to me that the difference between the web and TV is that TV never goes down. With iPlayer on my TV at home – is that still really true?

2.5 times as many people in the US watch soccer than golf

Some interesting facts and figures from SportBusiness this morning:

Sports network ESPN said the USA’s 1-1 draw with England in its opening game of the World Cup was the most-watched game for a national soccer team since 1994.

The match, shown on ABC, averaged 13 million viewers and attracted the biggest US audience for any game at the tournament in South Africa so far, according to Bloomberg. [1]

Compare this to golf, with:

The first round of this year’s US Masters golf tournament drew the biggest audience for a golf event in US cable television history last Thursday as Tiger Woods returned to the sport after nearly five months.

Bloomberg reports that an average 4.94 million viewers watched on ESPN, beating the previous record of 4.76 million for the 2008 US Open playoff between Woods and Rocco Mediate. [2]


One would have thought that golf is a far bigger sport in the US than ‘soccer’, but apparently not – these figures show that 2.5 times as many people in the US watch soccer than golf.






Back from holiday and thanks to Sky

Apologies for no posts over the last couple of weeks – I took a much-overdue holiday over the Easter break.

Once I arrived back to the office, I had the almost standard 500 emails-whilst-on-holiday. Why is Outlook so rubbish at collating emails properly by conversation? I hoped that Google Wave would make Microsoft wake up and try to improve Outlook for the first time in 10 years, and judging by the marketing fluff on the Outlook 2010 page, it might become a reality.

Back to home life, and at Maison Howard we have BT Vision rather than Sky TV. So when the Barcelona v Arsenal game was only shown on Sky TV, we watched the game via the legal live stream.

How much do you think it costs to watch a pay per view game on the Internet? Bear in mind that the game was the quarter final of the Champions League, and I’m not a Sky subscriber, I thought that £3 was excellent value.

We have a laptop permanently hooked up to the TV, and watched the game in reasonable quality. I would have been willing to pay an extra couple of quid for a higher quality version. BT Vision doesn’t cost any monthly fee, the Vision box is excellent (pretty much identical to Sky Plus) and we watch a few pay per view movies each month, plus a couple of pay per view streams from Sky over the Internet, and our TV bill comes to less than £15 a month.

Of course, nothing could change the result of the match and so I won’t be paying for any more Champions League this season.

The BBC – damned if they do, damned if they don’t

I felt sorry for the BBC this morning. For months they have been attacked by MPs and the media for being all too powerful, and were asked to scale back their operations to give commercial organisations a chance to compete.

So they’ve announced a number of cutbacks including closing a couple of stations, and suddenly they’re berated for doing so!

Maybe they should offer BBC 6 and the Asian Channel to commercial organisations to continue running them, rather than simply closing them down. Or maybe that would be interpreted as providing a state funded start up corporation (hmmm…. reminiscent of BT, O2, British Gas, National Grid, etc. etc.)

Last night a number of MPs stepped forward to say that closing BBC 6 was a travesty, and the BBC should leave the station alone. One can only speculate whether these MPs knew the writing was on the wall, and they simply joined the side of the public to scrounge a few more votes later this year.

One of the changes at the BBC that I disagree with is continuing Children’s BBC for a further two hours to 9pm. Kids need sleep, and TV (at least in my house) is the enemy of going-to-bed. I would imagine that the daily 7pm ‘shutdown’ is a signal to thousands of children across the country to get off the sofa and go upstairs to bed.

Talking About a Virtual Revolution

The BBC have been showing a TV documentary over the last few weekends called Virtual Revolution discussing the origins of the Internet, as well as the issues it currently faces (commercialisation, IP & ownership).

I’ve been quite surprised about how few people in the industry have seen the programme, or even knew anything about it.

It’s presented very well by the natural-born-presenter Dr Aleks Krotoski who judging from her Twitter feed is clearly passionate and proud of the series. Some parts are presented over-simplistically to anyone who has some level of knowledge of the industry, but even then, every few minutes there are some thought provoking comments from the likes of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Tim Berners-Lee, Krotski and many others.

Well worth a watch on iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search/?q=The%20Virtual%20Revolution

TV Stats, Web Stats and Future Stats

According to BARB, 12.09m people watched Eastenders on Friday 1 January. How does BARB work this out?

Viewing estimates are obtained from a panel of television owning private homes representing the viewing behaviour of the 26 million TV households within the UK. The panel is selected to be representative of each ITV and BBC region, with pre-determined sample sizes. Each home represents, on average, about 5,000 of the UK population.” (Source: http://www.barb.co.uk/about/tvMeasurement?_s=4)

OK. Now imagine we worked out web figures on such a low tech ‘sample’. Actually web stats are surprisingly accurate — products such as Omniture and Google Analytics track every page impression pretty accurately, which means that to a very small percentage, we know exactly how many pages were displayed across a website.

Marketing folks are often surprised how low some web ‘traffic’ (in TV speak, read ‘viewing’) figures are. But actually they’re very accurate, especially compared to the totally inaccurate method of TV stats.

The next generation of web applications are already posing further problems. Two years ago we pitched to a very well known football club to look into redeveloping their website and other Internet applications, once of which was SecondLife. They specifically asked us to recreate their stadium in SecondLife. During the pitch, our Creative Director boldly stood up (as Creative Directors do) and showed a screenshot on SecondLife of their stadium, already in the virtual world. His point was twofold – 1. there was already an unofficial one which the club could ‘buy’ from the obviously-bored fan; and 2. he was the only person in the stadium, which had about 45,000 ‘seats’.

To summarise:

  • TV stats are inaccurate
  • Web stats are accurate at the expense of appearing lower
  • Finally, when brands or Rights Holder start looking at ‘concurrent’ stats, they’re actually much lower than even the web stats.