In the works for months now, the Beeb is heeding the on-demand call from kids with today’s soft launch of the iPlayer for CBBC, designed for the net’s core kids six to 12 audience.
Available through www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc or directly at www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/cbbc, this aged-down version is an extension of its award-winning BBC iPlayer, which has already received more than 250 million requests to view BBC programs since last year’s launch, as well as several requests for CBBC content.
Kids will be able to view CBBC programs, including Blue Peter, MI High and Sara Jane Adventures, whenever they want. According to a Childwise survey carried out for the channel, a full 90% of kids between the ages of five and 16 have a PC at home, with 85% having internet access.
The programs will be available for viewing for a week after broadcast, while others can be accessed for up to 13 weeks as series catch-ups, and a safeguard has been implemented to prevent showing inappropriate content from the main iPlayer. The application has been specially designed to suit the way young ones navigate the web, with more visual cues as opposed to text-based navigation.
Following the soft launch, marketing campaigns will take to CBBC airspace in February 2009. Also during the second stage of the rollout, there are plans to launch an iPlayer for the CBeebies audience, with a focus on shows that are designed for parents to share the online experience with kids six and under.
About 40% (80 hours a week) of kid-related content is available on the iPlayer and that will be the same case with the intro of the CBBC and CBeebies extensions.
Also on CBBC front, Steven Andrew has been appointed as head of drama and acquisitions, starting in early January 2009. He steps in to replace Jon East, who is executive producing and directing new CBBC drama Bo and the Spirit World
Andrew has much children’s experience under his belt, previously as program director of ITV Digital Channels, as well as off-peak controller of IVT and controller at CiTV, developing and producing original children’s programming. He’s no stranger to the Beeb, where he previously worked for 24 years, with production credits including Blue Peter, Going Live and Grange Hill. His new role will have him overseeing the development and production of all in-house CBBC drama and handling all CBBC acquisitions.