Feeding on OU/BBC Co-Produced Content (Upcoming and Currently Available on iPlayer)

What feeds are available listing upcoming broadcasts of OU/BBC co-produced material or programmes currently available on iPlayer?

One of the things I’ve been pondering with respect to my OU/BBC programmes currently on iPlayer demo and OU/BBC co-pros upcoming on iPlayer (code) is how to start linking effectively across from programmes to Open University educational resources.

Chatting with KMi’s Mathieu d’Aquin a few days ago, he mentioned KMi were looking at ways of automating the creation of relevant semantic linkage that could be used to provide linkage between BBC programmes and OU content and maybe feed into the the BBC’s dynamic semantic publishing workflow.

In the context of OU and BBC programmes, one high level hook is the course code. Although I don’t think these feeds are widely promoted as a live service yet, I did see a preview(?) of an OU/BBC co-pro series feed that includes linkage options such as related course code (one only? Or does the schema allow for more than one linked course?) and OU nominated academic (one only? Or does the schema allow for more than one linked academic? More than one), as well as some subject terms and the sponsoring Faculty:

    <title><![CDATA[OU on the BBC: Symphony]]></title>
    <description><![CDATA[Explore the secrets of the symphony, the highest form of expression of Western classical music]]></description>
    <image title="The Berrill Building">http://www.open.edu/openlearn/files/ole/ole_images/general_images/ou_ats.jpg</image>
    <ou_faculty_reference>Music Department</ou_faculty_reference>
            <showdate>21:00:00 24/11/2011</showdate>
            <location><![CDATA[BBC Four]]></location>
            <showdate>19:30:00 16/03/2012</showdate>
            <location><![CDATA[BBC Four]]></location>
            <showdate>03:00:00 17/03/2012</showdate>
            <location><![CDATA[BBC Four]]></location>
            <showdate>19:30:00 23/03/2012</showdate>
            <location><![CDATA[BBC Four]]></location>
            <showdate>03:00:00 24/03/2012</showdate>
            <location><![CDATA[BBC Four]]></location>
 <category domain="http://www.open.edu/openlearn/whats-on">What's On</category>
 <category domain="http://www.open.edu/openlearn/tags/bbc-four">BBC Four</category>
 <category domain="http://www.open.edu/openlearn/tags/music">music</category>
 <category domain="http://www.open.edu/openlearn/tags/symphony">symphony</category>
 <pubDate>Tue, 18 Oct 2011 10:38:03 +0000</pubDate>
 <guid isPermaLink="false">147728 at http://www.open.edu/openlearn</guid>

I’m not sure what the guid is? Nor do there seem to be slots for links to related OpenLearn resources other than the top link element? However, the course code does provide a way into course related educational resources via data.open.ac.uk, the nominated academic link may provide a route to associated research interests (for example, via ORO, the OU open research repository), the BBC programme code provides a route in to the BBC programme metadata, and the category tags may provide other linkage somewhere depending on what vocabulary gets used for specifying categories!

I guess I need to build myself a little demo to se what we can do with a fed of this sort..?!;-)

I’m not sure if plans are similarly afoot to publish BBC programme metadata actual the actual programme instance (“episode”) level? It’s good to see that the OpenLearn What’s On feed has been tidied up little to include title elements, although it’s still tricky to work out what the feed is actually of?

For example, here’s the feed I saw a few days ago:

    <title><![CDATA[OU on the BBC: Divine Women  - 9:00pm 25/04/2012 - BBC Two and BBC HD]]></title>
    <description><![CDATA[Historian Bettany Hughes reveals the hidden history of women in religion, from dominatrix goddesses to feisty political operators and warrior empresses&nbsp;]]></description>
    <location><![CDATA[BBC Two and BBC HD]]></location>
	<image title="The Berrill Building">http://www.open.edu/openlearn/files/ole/ole_images/general_images/ou_ats.jpg</image>
    <showdate>21:00:00 25/04/2012</showdate>
     <pubDate>Tue, 24 Apr 2012 11:19:10 +0000</pubDate>
 <guid isPermaLink="false">151446 at http://www.open.edu/openlearn</guid>

It contains an upcoming show date for programmes that will be broadcast over the next week or so, and a link to a related page on OpenLearn for the episode, although no direct information about the BBC programme code for each item to be broadcast.

In the meantime, why not see what OU/BBC co-pros are currently available on iPlayer?

Or for a bitesize videos, how about this extensive range of clips from OU/BBC co-pros?

Enjoy! :-)

OU/BBC Co-Pros Currently on iPlayer, via ScraperWiki

A quick update to yesterday’s post on OU/BBC Co-Pros Currently on iPlayer: I’ve popped the first draft of a daily scraper onto Scraperwiki that looks at my delicious bookmark list of OU/BBC series co-pros and tries to find corresponding programmes that are currently available on iPlayer: OU BBC Co-pros on iPlayer Scraperwiki

This is probably not the most efficient solution, but at least it provides some sort of API to at least some relevant iPlayer data.

I’ve also popped up a quick Scraperwiki view over the data OU BBC Co-pros on iPlayer (Scraperwiki HTML View); note that this data is unsorted (I need to think about how best to do that?)

[I’ve added a couple more columns since that screenshot was grabbed; please feel free to work on the scraper, or the view, to improve them further; if you grab a copy of the view to work on your own, please add a link back to it in the comments below, along with a brief description of what you’re trying to achieve with your view…]

PS hmm, maybe I should pop the academics on In Our Time code onto Scraperwiki too?

PPS for a more recent view, see: OU/BBC co-pros – bootstrap experiment

OU on the Telly…

Ever since the Open University was founded, a relationship with the BBC has provided the OU with a route to broadcast through both television and radio. Some time ago, I posted a recipe for generating a page that showed current OU programmes on iPlayer (all rotted now…). Chatting to Liam last night, I started wondering about resurrecting this service, as well as pondering how I could easily begin to build up an archive of programme IDs for OU/BBC co-pros, so that whenever the fancy took me I could go to a current and comprehensive “OU on iPlayer” page and see what OU co-pro’d content was currently available to watch again.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious feed anywhere that gives access to this information, nor a simple directory page listing OU co-pros with links even to the parent series page or series identifier on the BBC site. (This would be lovely data to have in the OU’s open linked data store;-)

OU on the telly...

What caught my attention about this feed is that it’s focussed on growing audience around live broadcasts. This is fine if you’re tweeting added value* along with the live transmission and turning the programme into an event, but in general terms? I rarely watch live television any more, but I do watch a lot of iPlayer…

(* the Twitter commentary feed can than also be turned into expert commentary subtitles/captions, of course, using Martin Hawksey’s Twitter powered iPlayer subtitles recipe..)

There is also a “what’s on” feed available from OpenLearn (via a link – autodiscovery doesn’t seem to be enabled?), but it is rather horrible and it doesn’t contain BBC programme/series IDs (and I’m not sure the linked to pages necessarily do so, either?)

OU openlearn whats on feed (broken)

So – what to do? In the short term, as far as my tinkering goes, nothing (holidays…:-) But I think with a nice feed available, we could make quite a nice little view over OU co-pro’d content currently on iPlayer, and also start to have a think about linking in expert commentary, as well as linking out to additional resources…

See also:
Augmenting OU/BBC Co-Pro Programme Data With Semantic Tags
Linked Data Without the SPARQL – OU/BBC Programmes on iPlayer [this actually provides a crude recipe for getting access to OU/BBC programmes by bookmarking co-pro’d series pages on delicious…]

PS from @liamgh: “Just noticed that Wikipedia lists both BBC & OU as production co e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Virtu… RH Panel readable with dbpedia.” Interesting… so we should be able to pull down some OU/BBC co-pros by a query onto DBPedia…

PPS also from Liam – a handy recipe for generating an HTML5 leanback UI for video content identified via a SPARQL query: An HTML5 Leanback TV webapp that brings SPARQL to your living room

BBC iPlayer Gets a New Beta Release, plus Some Thoughts on My Changing TV Habits

The last few weeks have just seemed crazy to me – lots of events, new folk to meet, some incredibly stimulating conversations and a seemingly incessant flow of announcements that might actually mean something coming in over the interwebs. Picking up email as I was leaving the OU last night, I spotted an invite to today’s launch of a reversioned BBC iPLayer. I couldn’t make it down/up to London today, but the press release, #iplayer twitter coverage, live blogs and BBC blogs [UPDATE: another here], as well as the thing itself – http://beta.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/ (or in mobile form, http://beta.bbc.co.uk/mobile/iplayer/) kept me more than entertained.

One thing that’s kept coming to mind over this period has been the changing nature of TV viewing. Considering my own TV viewing through the main “living room screen”, it’s now split pretty much into thirds:

  • one third live TV from the four analogue terrestrial channels we can receive (BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel4);
  • one third DVD box sets;
  • one third iPLayer on Nintendo Wii, (which personally is to say: BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4 and BBC Parliament). NB my iPlayer on the Wii viewing tends not to be between 8pm and 9.15pm when for whatever reason buffering and dropouts disrupt viewing to such an extent that programmes are pretty much unwatchable. maybe it’s a local bandwidth problem, or maybe it’s a BBC problem…?

BBC iStats
[Source: BBC iStats]

(Thinking back a couple of years, the split used to be split 2/5 live TV, 2/5 HDD recordings, 1/5 video; but then the HDD broke and I replaced it with a cheap one with such an unusable interface we never bother with it anymore, except as a DVD player.)

I think it would be safe to say that if 4oD or the ITV Player were available on the Wii, we’d watch ITV and Channel 4 content on it… Same for Channel 5 (maybe?!).

The new iPlayer, whilst not providing a place to watch content from other providers, will apparently start providing a discovery service over content from other channels. As the press release puts it:

Later in the summer, audiences will also be able to find links to programmes from ITV Player, 4oD, Clic, Demand Five and SeeSaw – as a result of partnership deals with public service broadcasters ITV, Channel 4, S4C and Five, and communications infrastructure and media services company Arqiva.

These “metadata partnerships” mean that audiences looking for long-form programmes from other TV services will be directed to their websites: BBC iPlayer will link and drive traffic to them, without any sharing of technology or syndication of content.

But that’s for later? What’s for now…?

First up is a revamp of the iPlayer website:

New BBC iPlayer website

If you sign in with a BBC ID, you can get a range of personalisation options, including personal recommendations based on your previous viewing habits (I wonder if they use the Google Prediction API?!;-) and the ability to share recommendations with your friends from Facebook and/or Twitter who have also linked their social network account to their BBC ID:

BBC iPlayer friends

Unlike Recomendations, Favourites are private (though it could be handy to at least get hold of a private feed/one with an obfuscated URL, so that you could transport favourites elsewhere? Hmmm… I wonder if we’re going to start seeing personalised BBC iPlayer iGoogle gadgets, or wordpress widgets?!;-)

I assume that Personal Recommendations are based on Favourites and watched programmes? Linking iPlayer state to a BBC ID means that you can watch the content through any browser and link it back to your account, though I’m not sure how (if) the desktop iPlayer client also picks up BBC log in details? (Hmm, could it do this through a Flash cookie I wonder?)

iPlayer favourites

One problem for me is that a lot of my iPlayer viewing is done through the Wii, so unless that has been updated with personalisation features (I’ll check later today;-), the most useful data for making recommendations to me will be lost. (That said, the whole family watches iPlayer on the Wii, so the recommendations could go all over the place, cf. disrputed Amazon recommendations just after Christmas! (You’d think they’d be able to make the recommendations based on views between different windows of time?!) However, from the figures, it looks as though the WIi channel isn’t widely used…

BBC iStats report, UK only
[Data: BBC iStats]

(Hmmm, which reminds me… looking at the the Wii Shop last night, Nintendo we’re pushing a scheme giving out free Nintendo points if you could persuade someone else to hook their Wii up to the net. So maybe there are a lot of Wiis out there that aren’t networked, although they could be….?)

There look to be further personalisation options available in the Categories area (“My Categories”), although I’m not sure how this works…?

BBC iPlayer - My Categories

A second future announcement related to a tie-up with Windows Instant Messenger. Again from the press release:

A partnership with Microsoft allows Windows Live Messenger users to log in to their messaging service through BBC iPlayer, enabling them to invite other contacts to watch programmes at the same time and chat live. This is an experimental feature, which will be available in beta later in the Summer; if it proves successful, the BBC plans to extend it to other instant messaging services.

That is, users will be able to watch content on-demand, but synched with their remote friends, so they can chat along to it at the same time…. To me, this shouts out a great opportunity to capture programme synched tweets that can be fed into an evolving status updates caption feed (e.g. other Martin’s Twitter powered subtitles for BBC iPlayer, JISC10 Conference Keynotes with Twitter Subtitles or most recently Google I/O 2010 – Keynote Day 2 Android Demo with Twitter Subtitles).

(As to the deal with Microsoft, I can understand why the BBC feels it needs to partner with different corporates in a fair way, but from local experience in my household, most of the chat that used to be relayed by Instant Messenger now runs via Facebook chat…)

I’m not sure I fully grok what being able to watch content in synch with remotes friends actually means. YouTube piloted a feature like this several years ago (Youtube Streams?), where groups could gather around a video and chat around it, but I think they have since dropped it? (Maybe the timing wasn’t right a couple of years ago?) What this does mean, of course, is that small groups can start to reintroduce concurrent (“locally scheduled”) programming, that we have been moving away from through consumption of personal recordings and on-demand content?

Chatting to OU PR guru Paula Feery last week, it struck me that a lot of TV related PR activity (which we go in for at the OU because of our co-pro arrangement with the BBC) is aimed at getting previews of programmes into the press. But from my own viewing habits, a large part of my viewing (particularly over iPlayer content) is guided by post hoc reviews appearing in the weekend press of programmes broadcast over the previous seven days, as well as “last week’s” Radio Times, and (occasionally) social media comments from people I follow relating to programmes they have recently watched themselves. From a PR point of view, there may be an increasing benefit in considering “after-TX” PR opportunities to exploit the fact that content remains viewable over a 7 or 28 day period (or even longer for series linked content or content that is rebroadcast on other BBC channels).

The social features of iPlayer also means there are improved opportunities for promoting content though social media channels (so for example: maybe @open2 needs lots of Facebook and Twitter friends, a BBC ID, and someone tasked with recommending all the OU’s BBC output ;-)

PS I still can’t find an easy way of grabbing a list of OU/BBC programmes for a 7 day watch again service (which I have to admit, I haven’t maintained for over a year, so I’d be very surprised if it still works?! Same with the mobile version). I don’t think it’s possible to get a feed of recommendations or favorites out of iPlayer, but if it was possible, it would be handy to have one with a list of content in that list that was currently available on iPlayer ;-)

PPS So much for personalisation…. BBC ID registration requires an age; I set mine to well over 16 but still get this?

BBC iPlayer - personalisation only goes so far...?

I can appreciate why, but if this is supposed to be a personalised service….?

PPPS Reminds me, I still haven’t looked at the Google TV announcement yet… Here’s Liam’s take on it: Google TV: Your TV may never be the same again

PPPPS for more of my disconnected thoughts about status update captions, see eg:

Twitter Powered Subtitles for BBC iPlayer Content c/o the MASHe Blog;

Searching the Backchannel – Martin Bean, OU VC, Twitter Captioned at JISC10 (since implemented by @mhawksey).

For Martin’s development timeline, see MASHe tt-tweets category.

PPPPPS A comprehensive run down of the new features, plus commentary on the design philosophy, can be found in this blog post from Anthony Rose: Introducing the all new BBC iPlayer (This time it’s personal)

Thematic BBC TV Channels on Boxee, courtesy of DeliTV

One of the nice things about iPlayer is that there are plenty of RSS feeds available for different sorts of content that is currently on iPlayer.

So for example, there are feeds available by channel, by genre, by genre and channel, feeds that contain the most popular programmes, and so on.

To a certain extent, you can also configure your own feeds:

BBC iPlayer feeds - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/feeds/

Feeds… hmmm :-)

Trying to subscribe to one of these feeds as is in Boxee gives…. nothing – no video items found:-( But if you tidy up the programme URIs that are contained in the feed up a little (for example, by using Boxee/BBC Feed helper pipe that just strips everything off the end of the programme URI after the programme ID. So for example http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00mq4r3/sign/Land_Girls_Destinies/ becomes http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00mq4r3) then you can subscribe to and that the programmes in Boxee…

Simply(?!) grab the BBC iPlayer programmes feed URI, paste it into the pipe, grab the RSS feed URI for that pipe containing that BBC iPlayer feed URI, and then subscribe to that feed in Boxee, and you can watch a thematic BBC iPlayer channel…

But that’s way too difficult, right? It’s much easier to just bookmark the feed to your DeliTV channel, and the DeliTV pipework will handle it for you. So for example, if you bookmark this Signed BBC TV programmes feed with your DeliTV tag on delicious, you’ll have that channel added to your DeliTV schedule :-)

PS remember, you can also bookmark BBC category pages, such as this one for BBC Thrillers (or on iPlayer: BBC TV Comedy (Sitcoms) with your DeliTV tag, and the programme feed should work correctly in your Boxee DeliTV channel:-)

Now I just need a day or two to put a proper DeliTV homepage togther, with some simple instructions and a screencast or two… Unless someone would like to volunteer to do that?! ;-)

PPS for howtos regarding the creation of other ‘canned’ DeliTV channels, see Recent BBC/OU TV Programmes on Boxee or UK Soaps on BBC and ITV/STV.

Recent BBC/OU TV Programmes on Boxee

Many of you will know that the OU co-produces several BBC television programmes, including Coast and The Money Programme, as well as a wide range of one off series.

If you want to keep up-to-date with OU/BBC programmes, you can now watch BBC/OU programmes on their own dedicated DeliTV channel: just bookmark http://pipes.yahoo.com/ouseful/bbcouiplayer to your DeliTV collection:-)

BBC/OU on DeliTV - http://pipes.yahoo.com/ouseful/bbcouiplayer

For details of getting started with DeliTV, see Deli TV – Personally Programmed Social Television Channels on Boxee: Prototype

If you interested in the technical details of how this channel was put together, read on…

What I originally hoped to do was make use of an earlier hack that underpinned Recent OU Programmes on the BBC, via iPlayer (also available on iPhone: iPhone 7 Day OU Programme CatchUp, via BBC iPlayer). Unfortunately the pipework behind those applications has broken (note to self: repair them… – DONE:-) becuase they relied on using a search of the BBC website, a search that now appears to be broken in Yahoo pipes (something to do with a robots.txt exclusion:-(

So it was time for a rethink…

My source of recent OU/BBC programmes is the @open2 twitter feed, which gives the title of the programme and the channel:

So what I needed was to find a way of getting the iPlayer programme IDs for these programmes. My first thought was to take each programme title from the @open2 feed, and search twitter with the name using the from:iplayer_bbcone search limit. But the @player_bbcone feed doesn’t seem to be complete, so I ruled that out…

Digging around the iPlayer site, I found a list of feeds containing content by channel currently on iPlayer (I think? God only knows how this’ll scale if they start to do much longer than 7 day catch-up….?!) – BBC iPlayer feeds

BBC iPlayer feeds - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/feeds/

[DOH! Something just jumped out at me there… have you seen it yet…? Important post to follow after this one…:-)]

So I created a pipe (BBC TV – Current Programmes on iPlayer) that pulled together the BBC TV feeds, and allowed you to “search” them by title (i.e. search by filtering…;-):

One thing I noticed in one of the @open2 tweets was a capitalisation error, which would fail to match in titles in the filter, so I used a regular expression to remove the effects of capitalisation from the filter stage. (I found the trick from a quick search of the Pipes forums,in a reply by @hapdaniel: replace the grabbed text with the \L prefix (i.e. I used \L$1 as the replacement text to convert everyhting in the $1 string to lower case. \U works for upper (\l replaces applies to the first char, as does \u).)

I could then run the titles from the @open2 feed through the BBC programmes pipe to grab the progamme URIs on iPlayer.

So here’s the pipe. We start by getting the last 50 items from the @open2 updates feed (using ?count=50 to get more than the default number of items from the feed), use a regular expression to parse the tweets to identify the programme titles, remove the duplicate programme title items from the feed using the Unique block, put the time that tweet was sent into a universal/canonical form and then filter by date so we only get tweets from the last 7 days.

We then run each item through the BBC programmes filter described above and return the recent programmes feed:

A couple of tweaks to the DeliTV pipe handle, you know, stuff ;-) and you can now bookmark this pipe – BBC/OU 7 Day TV Catchup (or it’s RSS feed output) to delicious, tagged so that it appears in your DeliTV feed, and you have a channel dedicated to recent BBC/OU TV programmes that have been broadcast on BBC One to Four and that are currently available on iPlayer :-)

Deep Link into BBC iPlayer Content

One of the really handy things about Youtube is the ability to share bookmarks that “deep link” to a particular point within a video (e.g here’s Google having a dig at Microsoft; the URL? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5aJAaGZIvk#t=29m10s, which should start the video playing 29 minutes 10 seconds in. That is, just add something like #t=29m10s to the end of the Youtube video page URL to start the video playing that far in).

A similar service is offered on podcast material published through the wonderful IT Conversations, that lets you deep link in to a particular part of an audio file, which is great for sharing audio quotes and, err, messing around with: IT Conversations samples trigger pad;-)

Anyway, anyway, yesterday I saw this:

which means you can now deep link in to iPlayer content :-)

Deep link into iPlayer content

As with the Youtube deep linking, if you know the URL pattern, you can can create your own deep links on the fly (just add, ?t=21m45s, for example, on to the end of the URL to start the programme playing 21 minutes 45 seconds in.)

Something else I thought was interesting – the shared link is actually a BBC short link. So for an example, this is the sort of link you are given to share:


which then resolves to something like this:


I’ve raised the issue before now (in conversation with HEI internet services people, rather than through blog posts, I think?) about whether HEIs should run their own short code services (maybe as a Library service), but it’s always been shot down as being an extra hassle that we don’t need to worry about. (I always saw it as an opportunity for providing a couple of value add services: 1) providing a persistent web identifier that could act like a DOI; 2) providing a level of indirection (as in the case of a DOI) that might help as part of an archiving or “archival redirection” project – e.g. in the case of content moving and URIs changing (because they do change).)

Anyway – it seems as if the BBC think running their own short URI service is a good idea.. It’d also be useful to know if the short URI will permanently map to the same full URI, or whether it will support a more arbitrary form of resolution, e.g. maybe hooking in to services like URIPlay?

PS sort of, but not really, related, see also: Open University Podcasts on Your TV – Boxee App

PPS note the deep link time code doesn’t work with radio content in iPlayer console.

PPPS for a hacky mashup way of making use of timecodes, see Searching the backchannel with Twitter subtitles

Embedding BBC iPlayer Music Videos – Foals

Having a quick look at the new BBC Music and BBC Artist pages that have been getting a lot of mentions this week, I noticed (again?!) that it’s possible to officially embed at least some iPlayer videos now:

So for example, here’s clip of Foals from the BBC Introducing stage at the Bestival last year (I was there, they rocked…. totally…)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I have to admit, though, that I suspect that if anyone at Ofcom has a visionary moment about the potential of a BBC backed iPlayer, in the context of all the other BBC web content that’s available (including increasing amounts of semantic/linked data, they’re going to come down on the Beeb like a tonne of bricks – though it may be too late by then…

Anyway, if you’re not keeping up with iPlayer plays, here’s a good round up: BBC iPlayer 2.0: Links Roundup.

And if you’re into music, here’s another take on how the beeb sees music on the web: Sound Index. At the moment, the Sound Index artist pages don’t appear to match the BBC music artist pages (e.g. Foals (BBC Sound Index) and Foals (BBC Music, Artist pages, beta), nor does Sound Index use the MusicBrainz artist identifier that the Artist pages do in the URL, but maybe these services will merge in the near future?

If I was in the music biz, particularly the “360” music biz where merchandise and sales around the music (and artist profile/fan pages) is arguably more lucrative than music sales themselves, I’d be getting twitchy… (no ads or clicks-to-buy on the BBC…)

PS I’m going to be offline for a week or two, taking a bit of holiday, and catching up on some reading that’ll probably include BBC Trust – PwC Study into the economic impact of the BBC on the UK, Scoring Points and Making Money!