Guardian Telly on Google TV… Is the OU There, Yet?

A handful of posts across several Guardian blogs brought my attention to the Guardian’s new Google TV app (eg Guardian app for Google TV: an introduction (announcement), Developing the Google TV app in Beta (developer notes), The Guardian GoogleTV project, innovation & hacking (developer reflection)). Launched for the US, initially, “[i]t’s a new way to view [the Guardian’s] latest videos, headlines and photo galleries on a TV.”

The OU has had a demo Google TV app for several months now, courtesy of ex-of-the-OU, now of MetaBroadcast, Liam Green HughesAn HTML5 Leanback TV webapp that brings SPARQL to your living room:

@liamgh's OU leanback TV app demo

[Try the demo here: OU Google TV App [ demo ]]

Liam’s app is interesting for a couple of reasons: first, it demonstrates how to access data – and then content – from the OU’s open Linked Data store (in a similar way, the Guardian app draws on the Guardian Platform API, I think?); secondly, it demonstrates how to use the Google TV templates to get put a TV app together.

(It’s maybe also worth noting that the Google TV wasn’t Liam’s first crack at OU-TV – he also put together a Boxee app way back when: Rising to the Boxee developer challenge with an Open University app.)

As well as video and audio based course materials, seminar/lecture recordings, video shorts (such as the The History of the English Language in Ten Animated Minutes series (I couldn’t quickly find a good OU link?)), the OU also co-produces broadcast video with both the BBC (now under the OU-BBC “sixth agreement”), as well as Channel 4 (eg The Secret Life of Buildings was an OU co-pro).

Many of the OU/BBC co-pro programmes have video clips available on BBC iPlayer via the corresponding BBC programmes sites (I generate a quite possibly incomplete list through this hack – Linked Data Without the SPARQL – OU/BBC Programmes on iPlayer (here’s the current clips feed – I really should redo this script in something like Scraperwiki…); as far as I know, there’s no easy way of getting any sort of list of series codes/programme codes for OU/BBC co-pros, let alone an authoritative and complete one). The OU also gets access to extra clips, which appear on programme related pages on one of the OpenLearn branded sites (OpenLearn), but again, there’s no easy way of navigating these clips, and, erm, no TV app to showcase them.

Admittedly, Google TV enabled TVs are still in the minority and internet TV is still to prove itself with large audiences. I’m not sure what the KPIs are around OU/BBC co-pros (or how much the OU gives the BBC each year in broadcast related activity?), but I can’t for the life of me understand why we aren’t engaging more actively in beta styled initiatives around second screen in particular, but also things like Google TV. (If you think of apps on internet TV platforms such as Google TV or Boxee as channels that you can programme linearly or as on-demand services, might it change folks’ attitude towards them?)

Note that I’m not thinking of apps for course delivery, necessarily… I’m thinking more of ways of making more of the broadcast spend, increasing it’s surface area/exposure, and (particularly in the case of second screen) enriching broadcast materials and providing additional academic/learning journey value. Second screen activity might also as contribute to community development and brand enhancement through online social media engagement in an OU-owned and branded space parallel to the BBC space. Or it might not, of course…;-)

Of course, you might argue that this is all off-topic for the OU… but it isn’t if your focus is the OU’s broadcast activities, rather than formal education. If a fraction of the SocialLearn spend had gone on thinking about second screen applications, and maybe keeping Boxee/Google TV app development ticking over to see what insights it might bring about increasing engagement with broadcast materials, I also wonder if we might have started to think our way round to how second screen and leanback apps could also be used to support actual course delivery and drive innovation in that area?

PS two more things about the Guardian TV app announcement; firstly, it was brought to my attention through several different vectors (different blog subscriptions, Twitter); secondly, it introduced me to the Guardian beta minisite, which acts as an umbrella over/container for several of the Guardian blogs I follow… Now, where was the OU bloggers aggregated feed again? Planet OU wasn’t it? Another @liamgh initiative, I seem to remember…

PPS via a tweet from @barnstormed, I am reminded of something I keep meaning to blog about – OU Playlists on Youtube. For example, Digital Nepal or 60 Second Adventures in Thought, as well as The History of English in Ten Minutes. Given those playlists, one question might be: how might you build an app round them?!

PPPS via @paulbradshaw, it seems that the Guardian is increasingly into the content business, rather than just the news busines: Guardian announces multimedia partnerships with prestigious arts institutions [doh! of course it is….!] In this case, “partnering with Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera House, The Young Vic, Art Angel and the Roundhouse the Guardian [to] offer all more arts multimedia content than ever before”. “Summits” such as the recent Changing Media Summit are also candidate content factory events (eg in the same way that TED, O’Reilly conference and music festival events generate content…)

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

One thought on “Guardian Telly on Google TV… Is the OU There, Yet?”

  1. Interesting post Tony, though I had to quiz Martin to find out what a leanback app is :} I would definitely have thought the internet tv approach would be of considerable interest and benefit to the OU for distributing content to a growing general audience. If there was an OU “channel” on my internet enabled tv I’m sure I’d watch it!

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