Hashtag TV: BBC starts to make programming sociable

Summary:Getting broadcasting companies on Twitter is easy: linking into stories, sharing and retweeting content. But how about broadcasting programme-specific hashtags live on air?

Since the release of the new version of the BBC iPlayer, the founding father of British on-demand television which was rolled out a few weeks ago, the social aspect to television has been highly integrated.

The main new feature added to the site was the "recommend" button which links in to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, helping you tweet and message about the programmes you are watching. Soon, instant messaging will be incorporated to allow two people in different houses to share the same, second-by-second viewing experience by connecting Windows Live Messenger.

It's very Generation Y centric, in that younger people choose to watch television when they want to, instead of being bound by a strict schedule, and it also allows students to avoid paying the licence fee for a while. The integration of instant messaging also shows how blended the Web and television broadcasting has become.

You won't be surprised by this though; many websites have this. Even ZDNet has this feature at the very top of this article, for example. It's not new. But the BBC seem to have gone one step further, by integrating Twitter hashtags into the broadcast programmes themselves.

The BBC News for example takes pride in having its major news reporters and journalists attached to Twitter with certain identifiable branding, to communicate with the wider public. It expands their correspondence with the news stories and provides the potential for generating huge traffic to those on the go.

And as you would expect, the public broadcasting body has its own URL shortener (http://bbc.in, seen here) which further proves the corporation's efforts to sharing information, links and news over character limited services like Twitter.

While some programmes will generate more of a buzz online than others, such as broadcasts which include a high audience participation level or home-user interaction, this combination of two normal, existing services could transform television completely.

Would you tweet from a hashtag broadcast on your television? Would it encourage viewer interaction, or is watching the box "me time" only? Say your piece.

Topics: Software Development

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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