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BBC launches vertical video news product; plans BBC stories

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MUMBAI: BBC has launched a new vertical video experience in its News app. Users can swipe through a curated list of videos of the day, to get an up-to-date summary of news in an easy-to-consume and engaging format.

All the videos are created specifically with smartphone users in mind: the videos are succinct and sharply edited, designed to be viewed vertically in full screen, and have subtitles. In addition, the app will debut new vertical interstitial ad formats.

BBC News digital development director James Montgomery said, “Video remains the medium in which much of our best journalism is told, but the storytelling needs to be re-thought for mobile.The key to success is the combination of relevance and reward: videos that are not only great to watch, but which are offered in formats that are optimised for smartphones. We know that mobile users check their phones frequently but don’t have time to stay for long. In many cases, this is on their morning commute and again at home in the evening when they want to catch up on the day. The new index helps them find the best videos quickly, and presents it to them in a digestible and finite package."

The new vertical experience was designed in-house in partnership with the New York agency Code & Theory.

The upgrade is one of the fruits of Project Newstream, an initiative to adapt BBC video journalism to the mobile era. The same content is also published to the web, and to social, with a consistent look and feel in design.

This release will be followed by further enhancements, including improvements to image quality and social sharing functionality. A second vertical video index, BBC Stories will come out in early December. It will focus on current affairs with more personal and immersive human interest videos.

Montgomery added, “Being good at delivering news to mobiles is particularly important for younger audiences, for whom the smartphone is the primary, or possibly only, source of news.”

The international BBC News app now claims to have 7.2 million unique users each month, with almost a quarter watching video each week, and video views have almost doubled in the past year.

In 2013 the BBC announced a long-term goal to increase cross-platform weekly reach to 500 million people by 2022. It is recognised that News will account for the vast majority of this audience, and that digital is the fastest-growing, though not necessarily single largest, platform. By 2020, it’s thought that another billion people will be online and, as handsets, network speeds and data charges improve across the world, the majority of these are likely be connected via mobile phone, particularly in Africa and Asia.

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