I have to admit I have a soft spot for the BBC. They've been around for nearly 100 years, but they embraced technology and the Internet relatively early. I've seen so many amazing product people come out of the BBC, and many are now spread across Europe and beyond.
Back in 2003—a full four years before the debut of the iPhone—a young product manager at the BBC, Alex Pressland, had just finished leading a product effort that enabled the BBC to be one of the first media companies in the world to syndicate content. Most people at the BBC had no idea why this was important or even desirable, but Alex understood that this enabling technology could be used in new and unanticipated ways to increase the BBC's reach, a major part of the institution's mission.
Because Alex understood the potential for IP‐based syndicated content technology, she started searching for new and useful ways to put this technology to use. She began by looking at people in the United Kingdom who were not being reached by the BBC's conventional broadcast media (TVs and radios in homes and cars).
One early use she identified was large electronic billboard screens in many city center venues that were capable of displaying video. But she observed that these venues were just playing the same thing you could watch on your television at home, even though the context and audience was very different.
So, Alex proposed a series of experiments in which she would have editorial ...