As I was perusing around the various networks to get the latest on the London riots, I was surprised to find episodes of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Dr Who on BBC America throughout the day rather than some type of coverage of this big news story. While the network has positioned itself as an entertainment channel, it seems to me BBC America missed a perfect opportunity to fully highlight its resources in London covering the riots for BBC.
BBC America’s Website does have a section linking to a stream of BBC’s live TV coverage, which is great. But the promo’s location in the middle of the Web page didn’t immediately draw my eye as I only found it after I specifically went looking for it on the site. Putting BBC’s coverage in one of the spots in the flash module at the top, where promos for its shows Doctor Who, Graham Norton and Battlestar Galactica reside, would have done a better job of showcasing this newsworthy content.
A network spokeswoman told B&C the network has been running a ticker at the bottom of the screen about every hour, directing viewers to the BBC America Website to watch the live stream. During the times I happened to be watching the channel (in the morning and several times later in the day for at least 30 minute periods), I didn’t catch the ticker. Perhaps a static message in the corner of the screen would have been more effective for those viewers who tuned in for less than an hour.
“We know that people come to the BBC for news at times like this and are directing them to our online coverage at BBC.com which has updates on the situation around the clock. Meanwhile BBC America will continue to serve its viewers as an entertainment channel but we are definitely keeping an eye on things in the UK,” the BBC America spokeswoman said.
The network has also been using its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/BBCAMERICA) to alert viewers of BBC.com’s live streaming coverage. People are definitely making their way to BBC’s site as BBC.com/news had received over 1.5 million page impressions from the U.S. alone as of presstime, according to BBC America, which shows there is an American audience for this type of coverage.
BBC America recently had in-depth coverage of the lead up to the royal wedding in April, including five-and-a-half hours of commercial-free content in a simulcast with BBC One, on the day of the actual ceremony. A smart move given this was a monumental, highly-buzzed about British event that fits perfectly into the entertainment side of BBC America’s brand. It paid off with more than 7.2 million viewers tuning in throughout the day, with the wedding alone drawing over 1 million viewers, according to BBC America.
It seems only natural that coverage of such a huge and impactful story deserves more presence than a just an hourly ticker. Even short segments of BBC’s coverage mixed in throughout the day’s regular programming, clearly pointing to more news at the Website, would have better served American viewers who stopped by the channel hoping to see BBC’s perspective on what was transpiring on the ground in London.
The royal wedding, which the network viewed as an event, rather than “news coverage” is approached differently by the network than breaking news, such as the riots, the spokeswoman said.
For now, I’ll stick with other networks, the Web and Twitter for my information about the riots. But, I hope BBC America considers injecting relevant news coverage into their programming in the future.