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BBC iMP Trial Results Show Long-Tail Effect

Television over the internet could revolutionize broadcasting, according to the results of a consumer trial of the BBC integrated Media Player (iMP), revealed at an international conference by Ashley Highfield, the BBC director of new media and technology.

Informitv reports that while at the MIPTV/MILIA conference in Cannes, Ashley outlined the net results of the iMP trial which allowed a representative panel of 5,000 users to download BBC television and radio programmes over the internet.

The BBC director of new media and technology, who admitted that he had been pleasantly surprised at how well the secure peer-to-peer delivery system had worked, said: �It provides the first significant clues as to how TV programs over the internet could revolutionize broadcasting, and prompt a wider, cultural shift in television consumption.�

Three quarters of those that tested the service said they would recommend it to a friend. Although initially more popular with male users, by the end of the trial it apparently appealed equally to male and female users. Significantly, usage was consistently maintained throughout the trial, across most genres, with comedy, drama and documentaries being the most popular.

The top five programs accounted for a quarter of all the viewing, but other niche material was also well represented, reflecting the so-called �long-tail� effect. Practically every program that was made available was consumed by someone. As a result, documentaries turned out to be the most popular genre over all. Around a third of the users watched a program about which they had not previously known, suggesting a new form of serendipitous discovery that undermines existing assumptions about linear channel scheduling and presentation.

The results of the research will feed into the development of the proposed project which currently has the working title of 'MyBBCPlayer,' which the BBC hopes to launch later in the year, subject to a market impact analysis by the communications regulator Ofcom and approval by the BBC governors.

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