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BBC to publish documentary clips on WhatsApp and Viber


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Broadcasting organization BBC News will be using chat applications Viber and WhatsApp to publish its documentaries.

BBC World News will publish posts via a BBC public channel in the app. The posts will will be delivered to Viber users across a week, replicating the timeline of the original events as told by the victims. This will be tied in with the television broadcast of the documentary “Our World: Kidnapped in Mexico.”

BBC Africa will use WhatsApp to share clips from the documentary ‘Young, Angry and Connected’. A daily clip of around 2-3 minutes will be delivered to those who subscribe to the WhatsApp service number (+44 7734778817) and will be available in French and English.

In April 2014, it’s worth remembering that BBC had launched a pilot through which it was pushing out audio bulletins and other updates related to the Indian general elections via WhatsApp, WeChat and BlackBerry Messenger. On WhatsApp, BBC transformed the service on election day into a live breaking and analysis service, sending more than 20 items to subscribers on the day. This included breaking news alerts and analysis from correspondents in its Delhi bureau.

On WeChat, BBC took a slightly different approach wherein it sent a single message with bundling all its headlines and story links that users could click to read the story. Users could also choose to read latest stories from various categories like technology, world news and business news which was delivered through RSS feeds from its site.

Limitations of WhatsApp

Digiday points out that WhatsApp only lets publishers have 256 people per broadcast channel. When that limit is reached, the publisher has to create a new channel for new users to subscribe to. Effectively, the publisher will have to duplicate the publishing process across multiple channels.

In contrast, on Viber, an unlimited number of users can sign themselves up for a channel. While it takes three minutes to publish a piece of content on Viber, the same process could take up to half an hour on WhatsApp, largely because of the duplication requirement.

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MediaNama’s take

BBC’s experiments with chat messengers are an interesting mode to distribute news but we need to see whether they will gain traction. We had pointed out that WhatsApp might work well as a media publishing platform. WhatsApp also said it would be looking at new revenue models where users could directly chat with businesses. It remains to be seen what WhatsApp’s plans are but surely BBC would benefit from this and turn the messenger application into a publishing platform.

Also read: WhatsApp is eating telecom (or trying to)

Partnership with LINE messenger

In October 2014, LINE users could add or subscribe to BBC Hindi’s news services and receive text, videos, graphics and audio news bulletins. Around the time, LINE Messenger had claimed 30 million registered users in India. The company hasn’t disclosed the number of active users it has, but, as of October 9th 2014, 170 million of its 560 million global users were active.

Also read: Dear BBC, your WhatsApp election coverage idea is not scalable

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