The BBC is adding a “buyer’s guide” to its web pages that will send fans of shows to e-tailers that sell accompanying downloads and CDs. The addition started today at The Archers’ website, which points to audiobooks at Audible.co.uk, Spoken Network, Book Depository and, well, BBC Worldwide’s own BBC Shop. Doubtless, this will attract both cheers from some of the e-tailers set to benefit and cat calls from both stores that miss out and broadcasting rivals upset at the inclusion of BBC Shop. But Auntie has got its defence in first, via interactive audio and music controller Mark Friend’s blog…
Friend says: “Our decision to introduce the ‘Buyer’s Guides’ is driven by a public service, and not a commercial, ethos. Rather, this is about making it easier to find relevant BBC material and providing information to help guide people through buying online. Suppliers do not make any payments to the BBC, either for listing as part of this service or for any click-throughs. The suggested suppliers have been assessed against published criteria which include purchasing security, data protection and customer support.”
And on the philosophy: “Buying media online can be confusing and daunting, particularly for those with concerns around security and legality. I believe the BBC has a public service role to play in helping people to find older content, and in guiding those least familiar with purchasing media online. Acting as a ‘trusted guide’ is something that we take very seriously.”
Buyer’s Guide launches in the absence, of course, of Kangaroo, which was to be BBC Worldwide’s sell-through destination for old shows. This shows the public-service BBC bridging the gap to its commercially-available long tail in a similar way. Friend said the guides are launching after focus groups with audiences: “They reacted positively to the idea that the BBC should provide links to commercially available BBC content. In fact most participants were happy for the BBC to take a stronger commercial stance.” You can just feel the Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee bristling at the suggestion – prevailing wind in policy circles says the BBC’s commercial activities (at least overseas) renewed pledge to offer more links to commercial news sites.