BBC relaunches Red Button with iPlayer-friendly web boost

BBC relaunches Red Button with iPlayer-friendly web boost
It's always Eastenders with this lot

The BBC has dragged the Red Button kicking and screaming into the brave new world of connected TVs, with an updated service launching today.

The new Connected Red Button uses the internet to deliver iPlayer catch-up programming, full BBC news and weather, and multi-stream sport coverage when there are multiple live events happening, all at the touch of a button (the red one).

What's nice about the new service, aside from it looking suitably swish and working well, is that the programming suggestions have been specifically curated by the teams who schedule the BBC's regular broadcasts.

At the moment, that means that you'll see a nice selection of channel-relevant iPlayer programmes when you hit the red button but in time they'll be themed around the actual programme that you're watching.

All new

The Red Button is basically Ceefax for the new generation, bringing extra bits and pieces to regular broadcasts on BBC channels.

While the traditional service was delivered via digital broadcast signal (MHEG) which was pretty restrictive about what the Beeb could showcase because of spectrum limitations, the new one uses broadband.

That means that rather than just the headlines and nibs of yore, the news area will show off full stories, overlaid over whatever's playing on screen so you can read and watch at the same time.

The sports area is chock-a-block with three pages of video clips to enjoy, while the service also effectively means that BBC Three and BBC Four are always on-air via the red button even though they're technically off-air for most of the day.

The BBC's mission was to make all this as simple and straightforward as possible and, if you've ever used iPlayer or a BBC app, it should all seem fairly familiar to you.

Sky's the limit

The new Connected Red Button launches on Virgin Media's Tivo service today (it should be live now) with the BBC promising roll-out to other less pricey platforms during 2013 – that means your connected TVs, your Freesat, your YouView and any other web-friendly boxes.

It's not looking likely that the nifty new Red Button services will come to Sky though.

Daniel Danker, general manager of BBC programmes and on demand at the BBC told us, "Sky is a closed platform – I shouldn't even call it a platform, it's a closed service. There's no open platform to develop into. I have no line of sight of Connected Red Button coming to Sky unless they shift their approach."

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.