The BBC World Service has launched its first Africa-designed digital pilot, with RLabs-designed BBC Minute CatchUP going live to allow users to hear and share the latest edition of BBC Minute.
Disrupt Africa reported in March BBC Connected Studio and BBC World Service would hold a development studio in conjunction with RLabs in Cape Town, in order to generate ideas and explore technologies for new ways of BBC audio content reaching African audiences.
The Cape Town initiative followed a successful initiation of the project in Nairobi, Kenya, last month, where two teams were picked to have their solutions for helping the BBC World Service connect with digital audiences piloted.
RLabs CatchUP was selected from 12 teams at the Cape Town event to take part in a six-month pilot stage as part of the BBC development studio challenge, and the prototype media player is now live online. The solution, which can sit within any online page, is specially created to work well on smartphones.
“African audiences have become “mobile-first” before the term has become mainstream for western media, and World Service has a very impressive record of growing mobile and social segments of our digital reach,” said Dmitry Shishkin, digital development editor for the World Service.
“While planning these hackathons our task was to find new ways of reaching digital audiences in Africa – to offer them a huge array of great content, relevant to them. It is extremely important for us that we are taking selected pilots from ideas into live products, developed from scratch by the audience – for the audience.”
Shishkin added that it was exciting for the BBC to be at the forefront of these developments in Africa, and he hoped the ideas can be used in other regions of the world.
“The team can now see their idea performing in real life and we hope the audience enjoys trying it out,” he said.
A further pilot from the Connected Studio project in Africa – Nairobi-designed BBC Drop – will launch online in the coming weeks.