BBC Launches Taster to Incubate Content, Technology Ideas

Danny Cohen - H 2013

Audiences can try out and rate "early and experimental concepts" for TV, radio and online, as well as added content, including offers featuring Lena Dunham and hip hop duo Run the Jewels.

The BBC on Monday unveiled BBC Taster, a new web site that it described as "a space to develop its latest ideas for digital content and emerging technology."

Said the U.K. public broadcaster: "Taster will feature early and experimental concepts from across TV, radio and online, enabling the BBC to explore the future of content with audiences and offer them something completely new to try, rate and share."

Read more 'Sherlock,' 'Top Gear' Lead BBC’s 2014 iPlayer Charts

It added: "Taster is a place for the BBC to try new ways of telling stories, develop new talent and put new technology through its paces. It also allows the BBC to showcase a range of editorial and technology projects that may have previously remained behind closed doors."

The service allows the BBC to release ideas early, get feedback from audiences and improve them if there is potential in them. "This ensures greater collaboration across the BBC and with the wider industry, enabling us to innovate quickly and work on a range of ideas in response to audiences’ rapidly changing media habits," the BBC said.

Among the ideas that the site will showcase are interactive, short-form and social content ideas, online features and services and "other ideas from left-field," the broadcaster said.

On Monday, the site, among other things, featured content from a recent conversation between Girls creator Lena Dunham and Absolutely Fabulous creator Jennifer Saunders, which aired on Newsnight but now sees 40 minutes of unseen material offered online; "Who is in today?," a feature that lets audiences know which celebrities visited BBC studios along with exclusive photos, videos and backstage gossip; a Doctor Who interactive field reported; exclusive and interactive material from a recent gig of U.S. hip hop duo Run the Jewels; "KneeJerk," which sees comedy troupe The Noise Next Door turn social media platforms into a comedy stage; and "Your Story," which taps into the BBC News archive to let people create a personalized and shareable timeline of big or quirky stories making the headlines when they were born.

Read more BBC Won't Sell Youth Network Despite $150 Million Bid

Said Ralph Rivera, director of BBC Future Media: "Innovation has been at the heart of the BBC since the birth of radio and TV, right through to the digital age - having pioneered products and services like the BBC Micro, Ceefax, BBC iPlayer and the first truly digital Olympics in 2012. BBC Taster is the next step, bringing together our editorial and technology experts and opening the process up for audiences. This will give us valuable feedback and technical insights, helping us further develop our ideas and work on those with the greatest potential."

Said Danny Cohen, director of BBC TV: "We’ve always pushed the boundaries with our creative programming and innovative digital services. These two worlds are coming together and opening up new possibilities for telling stories. BBC Taster will help ensure we stay at the forefront and better serve audiences now and in the future. It’s an exciting opportunity for our world-class production teams to take more creative risks online, try their ideas out and put them in the hands of audiences."

Twitter: @georgszalai