Commercial public TV broadcasters are about to get a big boost to their web-based VOD services from the BBC.
Nine months after it first announced it, the BBC has finally started including in BBC iPlayer linked VOD listings for counterpart sites.
As expected, partners are channels from ITV (LSE: ITV), Channel Four, Channel Five, S4C and SeeSaw - but a surprise edition is MSN Video Player, the aggregator spearheaded by former iPlayer chief Ashley Highfield at Microsoft.
This is a big deal because iPlayer is the most popular TV catch-up site in the UK, and has virtually become a byword for the whole VOD phenomenon it has helped popularise.
As I wrote when this was first announced, I had something to do with the early thinking behind this a few years ago. So here goes a cheer and a toast to everybody involved.
It wouldn't feel right for me to go into that early work here – and it may not be that relevant today. But what I find much more interesting is this snippet from my mate Chris who was involved in the later stages of the project:
We encourage you to reconsider the role of aggregation. In fact, we've been doing this for a couple of years now in several confidential consulting projects, as well as publicly. We've seen it deliver up to 40% more views to the aggregating party's content.
Take a minute to digest this.
Imagine you are a content owner who publishes (i.e. hosts) and aggregates (i.e. curates) his own content online – say, a typical newspaper's website. Suppose that one day you start adding links to your competitors, promoting their content alongside your own and sending people to their sites (where your competitors get the advertising money, not you). Your site becomes more useful, and more people start visiting you. So far, nothing surprising. But then you check how much traffic your own content is getting (your articles, not just your site), and find that it is 40% more popular than before. That is surprising. You give traffic away and are rewarded (by your visitors, not your competitors) with more traffic to your content.
If this can be shown to hold more generally (and not just in the cases that Chris studied), the implications for media companies everywhere could be significant. It would challenge fundamental assumptions about the role of media brands, the relationship between aggregators and publishers, and more.
For years this blog has been harping on about how the changing nature of aggregation is changing the media value chain. I'll try to put together a summary of that in the coming weeks.