BBC Worldwide: Bringing More Content to Consumers with APIs
As the commercial arm of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), BBC Worldwide fills a unique role within the organization, helping it leverage the popularity of well-known shows, such as Top Gear and Doctor Who, by selling them and related products to a global audience while supporting BBC’s public service mission. In 2013/14, BBC Worldwide generated headline profits of £157.4m and headline sales of £1,042.3m and returned £173.8m to the BBC.
Challenges and Opportunities
In the rapidly changing world of digital media the BBC, a highly respected organization and source of British national pride, is keen to continue innovating in the digital space.
BBC Worldwide, through BBC Store, is taking the first steps in rolling out a sophisticated B2C platform across its suite of online properties. As a commercial platform, BBC Store will complement BBC iPlayer, surfacing more and more content over time from the BBC's historical archive for purchase, says Michael Fleshman, SVP consumer digital technology at BBC Worldwide. BBC Store has a complex multi-tier IT architecture, using a variety of suppliers to provide a variety of platforms. The challenge was pulling together all these suppliers into a new direct-to-consumer retail platform, that would allow consumers to buy and keep their favorite BBC shows.
“BBC Store enables the creation of an integrated platform that brings together content entitlements, metadata around that content, interfacing with financial and ID systems; everything that has to come together to create a comprehensive business to consumer digital services platform” says Fleshman.
The delivery of this reliable, global, end-to-end e-commerce platform required the creation of a set of consistent, scalable APIs.
In order to create a cutting-edge, innovative online store, BBC Worldwide partnered with Apigee to leverage the API platform company’s comprehensive services.
"What attracted us to Apigee was its specific functionality and toolsets that enable us to easily integrate with the systems we have internally as well as the ease of transforming our data to create our desired APIs,” explains Fleshman.
Apigee’s API expertise and intellectual capital also weighed heavily in BBC Worldwide’s decision of this strategic partnership. “What defines success for us is the design of the APIs themselves,” says Fleshman. “The level of expertise that Apigee brought to the table in terms of individuals who can help with the design of the APIs was an important aspect.”
Apigee Edge acts as the internal API management platform for BBC Worldwide, mediating and brokering traffic from application to application and improving interoperability between front-end and back-end systems.
While BBC Store isn’t set to go live until 2015, BBC Worldwide has a clear idea of the benefits its APIs and data will bring to the business.
"We are trying to get more video-rich content out to users and provide a suite of products, enabling consumers to experience more BBC content,” adds Fleshman. “When you look at the proportion of our video content that is commercialized, around 90% is not available commercially through DVD or other means after the iPlayer catch-up window. So we'd like to provide to consumers more video and information-rich experiences that expose more of the BBC's archives.”
Everything that BBC Worldwide is doing is in the cloud behind Apigee, from developments to testing to the code, which ensures scalability and reliability. The core of this is around data-driven design and frameworks, which allows the BBC to test what works and what doesn't. “This will enable us to provide recommendations to individuals and some customization of the user journey based on what they like and what they've done,” explains Fleshman. “The overall aim is to have a global platform that provides the best experience possible to the consumers of BBC content, whether free or commercial, while also layering on additional services and different ways of interacting with rich video content.”
- Create a set of consistent, scalable APIs
- Pull together suppliers into a new direct-to-consumer retail platform allowing consumers to buy and keep their favorite BBC shows
- Gather content entitlements, metadata around that content interfacing with financial and ID systems
- Easily integrate with legacy systems transforming data to create desired APIs
- Implement data-driven design and frameworks to allow testing of what works and what doesn't
- Get more video-rich content out to users and provide a suite of products, enabling consumers to experience more BBC content