The ABC have quickly become forerunners in the delivery of cross-platform technology supporting their broadcast wares. The release of an iview app for iPad last year was a great extension of it’s online offering and now the iPhone app to match (which, in itself, is very good). If you’ve got a smartphone, grab it – it’s on the must have list (just keep an eye on your mobile data plan). From the press release:

From ABC iview and online streaming to social TV, ABC TV is changing the game.

Today, ABC TV takes another important innovative step forward with the launch of ABC iview on iPhone. In addition, the iview app now features streaming via 3G on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

Delivering ABC TV content in 2012 is all about working with the opportunities that new digital technology offers. It’s about new platforms, smart devices and innovative content, delivering audiences more choice and deeper engagement. It’s about integrating traditional programming and the traditional viewing experience with the social, interactive and engaging elements of new media. And it is something that the ABC has been doing very well for a long time now.

ABC TV was the first to market with an online streaming catch-up service, with the July 2008 launch of ABC iview. The service is now available via web browsers, internet-enabled TVs, blu-ray players, gaming consoles, media centres, tablet and mobile devices.

“ABC iview was one of the important first steps in the evolution of ABC TV’s content offering. It provides choice in terms of what people watch, when they watch it and on what device. Today we are taking it another step forward,” said Director of ABC TV, Kim Dalton.

So what’s next to keep ABC TV ahead of the game and setting the agenda? Director of ABC TV, Kim Dalton is pleased to announce today, ABC TV is now available on iPhone. Already available on iPad over Wi-Fi, with the launch of an ABC iview universal iOS mobile app, television is taking the next step forward. ABC iview on iPhone has been the most requested service since the launch of ABC iview on iPad. The universal app is an innovative response to changing audience behaviour, preparing for the future and for the explosive growth of the mobile internet.

The app features iview’s complete catch-up TV offering including programs from ABC1, ABC2, ABC3 and ABC4Kids, the ABC News 24 live stream and ABC iview ‘exclusives’.

In addition to all of the popular features in the previous version of the ABC iview iPad app, such as AirPlay support, parental control and support for closed captioning, the highly anticipated app includes adaptive streaming – video quality that adapts to a user’s available bandwidth and network conditions, resulting in a better, more consistent viewing experience.

ABC iview on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch offers the following features:

  • Instant and unlimited access to ABC TV programs following TV broadcast.
  • Live streaming of ABC News 24.
  • Access through 3G or Wi-Fi.
  • AirPlay support: wirelessly streaming programs on the app to the living room TV and speakers via AppleTV, while keeping the device free for multi-tasking.
  • The ability to start a program on one iOS device and continue watching from the same point on another iOS device.
  • Watchlist syncing between iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch via iCloud.
  • Sharing programs to social networks.
  • Parental control functionality.
  • Support for closed captioning.

ABC TV’s Controller of Multiplatform, Arul Baskaran, said: “At the ABC, our focus is always on creating and curating quality programs and delivery methods that are in tune with the media habits of contemporary Australia. As a public broadcaster we are committed to making our content easily accessible on multiple platforms, and by extending ABC iview to iPhone, with watching over Wi-Fi and 3G, we’re reaching millions of Australians on millions of mobile devices.”

Director of ABC TV, Kim Dalton, said: “ABC TV has consistently been the leading Australian broadcaster, delivering choice and convenience to our audiences. This app is a landmark step in making TV content accessible to Australians on mobile platforms, and complements ABC TV’s strategy to make our content accessible at home on your TV or PC, or on the go via your tablet or phone. We’ve effectively put TV in your pocket.”

Download the free ABC iview universal iOS app here:

Audiences today access content on a range of platforms. They consume content on a variety of connected and mobile devices and engage with content and each other in real time. The challenges in this evolving environment have never been greater for broadcasters. The opportunities however, are just as great.

This technology allows ABC TV to connect with large audiences and integrate the traditional viewing experience with the social, interactive and engaging elements of digital media. At its core this is all about working with new technology – it’s about new platforms, smart devices and innovative content delivering audiences more choice and deeper engagement. And it is something the ABC has always done very well.

According to the Nielsen Online Consumer Report (released in 2012), ABC iview is by far the most popular catch-up TV service in Australia. More remarkable is the fact that almost half of the Australians who are legally watching TV content online are watching iview. According to Ericsson’s TV & Video 2011 Consumer Trends Report, ABC iview is the 2nd top source for downloaded/streamed video content in Australia.

  • By the end of 2008, ABC iview had a monthly average of 129,000 visitors and 255,000 visits.
  • In 2010 average visitors exceeded half a million, and visits were up to 2 million on average per month.
  • In 2011, there were 873,000 average visitors and 2.9 million average visits.
  • October 2011 recorded the highest ever number of visits and visitors, with 3.6 million visits to the ABC iview website.
  • In 2012, ABC iview growth has continued, with average monthly visits up to 3.3 million ytd (an increase of 22% YOY) and monthly visitors increasing steadily to 922,000 in 2012 ytd.
  • In May 2012, ABC iview reported a record 8.2 million program plays. Prior to release of the new universal iOS app, the ABC iview app for iPad recorded more than 490,000 unique users. (*Source: WebTrends and Flurry.)

The strength of broadcast television is its ability to bring together large audiences. The integrated connected device allows broadcast television to engage individually with these viewers. And that is potentially a game changer. A great example is Q&A. The program is all about engagement. Its tagline is ‘Join the Conversation’ and that is enabled through Twitter, Facebook, online video questions, real time web-delivered questions and direct audience participation.

An average episode of Q&A now generates 20,000 #qanda tweets from 5000 accounts, and in total over 1 million #qanda tweets have been generated by the program. Tweets are included on screen, thus delivering a rolling audience-generated commentary or sub-text.

Tweets are moderated, selected, and, republished by ABC TV. But of course a far broader Twitter conversation takes place on the Twitter platform – prompted by the show but taking place entirely outside of the ABC’s influence or direction. What’s been done with Q&A has been to integrate the social media aspects of a debate into a traditional TV format with very exciting results.

Content and rich viewer experiences are also driving changes on the other end of the audience viewing spectrum. ABC TV’s children’s content is another example of being one step ahead of the game in creating ‘stickiness’ for a TV program by first offering opportunities for audiences to engage in new ways. Children enjoy watching traditional TV programs through destinations created for them on other platforms. A great example of this is the enormously popular Play School Artmaker app.

“Now remember, Play School has been on air for nearly 46 years. As a brand extension idea, ABC TV has focused on its watch/play/create strategy to build an app where kids can record their own voice, add sound effects, make mini-movies and then play it all back.

“What has been most interesting though has been the extent to which children have been watching the Play School program through the Play School Artmaker app. When presented with an embedded player and streamed Play School content, users of the app finish with the play and go back to the TV show. The app drives audiences back to traditional TV,” said Kim Dalton.

“The future challenge for broadcasters is to provide greater choice to viewers – through catch-up, through unique video on demand content and through live-streaming of our channels. The Free-to-Air platform is well placed to embrace the connected world and strengthen its connection with audiences.

“ABC iview was the piece of innovation that liberated ABC TV as a broadcaster from the ‘fixed in time and space’ linear relationship with audiences. It will be the delivery of iview to iPhones and iPads that will make ABC TV truly mobile,” said Kim Dalton.

** As noted within the updated ABC iview iOS app – as well as on the App Store and the ABC iview website, the ABC strongly advises monitoring data usage when watching ABC iview over 3G. The ABC iview website provides approximate and indicative information on data consumption and charges related to viewing iview material on mobile data plans.