First green shoots of the U.K. online video long tail

4 08 2007

This morning was my first real opportunity to play around with the BBC’s Open Archive trial, a corucopia of vintage treats — made even more rewarding by the addition of newly-shot contextual pieces wrapped around the original video, as well as extra material from some of the BBC’s best-known faces.

Wildlife presenter David Attenborough, for example, talks about life on both sides of the camera; while comedian Lenny Henry shares his thoughts on [the now very un-PC] 1970s variety format The Black and White Minstrel Show. 

Browse is filtered by decade or category, with the real reward coming through ‘serendipitous’ linking of related content, turning a mere experience into a voyage of discovery.

Lots of predictably worthy ‘public purpose’ stuff there, but I’m afraid it was a 1982 episode of The Keith Harris Show which I gravitated towards. They don’t [thankfully] do song and dance routines like that any more 🙂

The trial service is currently available to just 20,000 people, but it’s hoped that the BBC’s Trust unit will soon grant permission for it to be made available to a broader audience.

The ITV Broadband service, meanwhile, is open to all and features an increasing range of full-length classic drama, comedy and children’s titles. While the availability of the programmes is rewarding in its own right, the BBC service differentiates itself with the additional contextual material mentioned above.

Channel 4’s 4oD service also offers a small back catalogue of titles, but these are accessible only a pay-per-view basis (vs. ad-funded for ITV and free for the BBC) and with the majority being titles which were broadcast within recent months, the service is generally more based on extended catch-up than a true long tail offer.

Anyway, I’m off to catch some more of Keith Harris, Orville and Bournemouth’s answer to Vegas showgirls.