ABC TV upgrades website

ABC TV has upgraded to its site design to enable better integration and collaboration between its four television station website and an improved electronic TV guide.

The makeover took six months to complete and head of multiplatform at ABC TV, Arul Baskaran, said the move would allow the ABC to build on its profile as a multi-platform entity.

“For the last few years, we’ve seen ABC TV prioritising the work we do with the platform. We’ve been building a team and have been able to recognise online distribution is key to what we do,” Baskaran said.

“There was discussion around the idea that TV may be taking away from the online domain, but now we see there are ways for them to work together, especially with the NBN and the success we’ve seen with iView. We’ve seen online content is especially important to what we do.”

Customer engagement is a top priority of the ABC’s digital strategy, he said.

“We have some key principles that drive our strategy. The first is to create experiences that engage our audiences in new and exciting ways. An example of this is being able to catch up on iView. Now you can watch TV when you want, wherever you want. We will keep expanding on the choices that people have around that.

“Making our content appropriate for our audiences is important. We’ve leveraged our online and TV content and have been able to build communities around it.”

ABC 3 has also engaged younger viewers through its website — around 55,000 children have created avatars on the site.

“We’ve built an ABC 3 website and it’s very much in sync with the station,” Baskaran said. “We have the same presenters on the website and the TV channel, and when you get to the website they are actually there on video, pointing out content. They are your first friends when you join and receive an avatar in the online community.”

The future success of the project will depend on the success of the implementation of a new CMS across the ABC, although Baskaran declined to name the product.

“We are in the process of moving to a new CMS that will be at the enterprise level of assistance. We will be transitioning to that within the next six months.

“It really will come down to how effective our new CMS is as to how successful our site upgrade is. We try to be as efficient as we can and, given that the ABC is one media asset that’s used by a number of groups, we try to get that data to be compatible with as many different systems as we can without having to create different instances of it,” he said.

The development team undertook internal research in addition to understanding the different types of technology working across the ABC. The ABC has typically run several different systems — an internal CMS, streaming technology, iView technology and content delivery networks.

“We use XML to talk to our broadcast management systems, but also we’ve built in scope for some editorial into our home page,” Baskaran said.

The team also had to cope with scope creep when the ABC launched its 24-hour news channel on digital TV.

“It was announced when we were about three-quarters of the way through the project so we had to make sure we could integrate a new TV guide for that channel and make sure it in each Australian states,” he said.

The new gateway can be found

The gateway launch follows the announcement that iView would be making the move to the iPad.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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