Speaking at The Guardian’s Changing Media Summit in London, Ralph Rivera, BBC’s director of future media, said the scale and spirit of the Olympics allowed collaboration to become possible but said he is working to ensure it is the “norm” at the organisation, not the “exception”.
During the Olympics the BBC worked with other companies – such as O2, Sky, Virgin Media, BT and others – to deliver its round the clock coverage on linear TV, online and mobile as it looked to make “the Olympics for digital what the Coronation was for TV”.
Internally, Rivera said he is working to do more to “connect the boffins and the luvvies”.
He added: “At the BBC, when innovation and creativity come together, we produce amazing experiences. Just look at the groundbreaking filming and editing techniques for Frozen Planet, Sherlock, Africa and the interactive video for the Olympics.”
When Rivera joined the BBC in 2010 he said the organisation was operating in silos and even when it was planning its move to the new Broadcasting House there was initially going to be a “Future Media floor”.
Instead Rivera has distributed his team across radio, TV and news to ensure products, such as the forthcoming The Voice app to coincide with the first episode of the new series, are brought to market quicker.
He said: “I’m very focused on…bringing together editorial with product and engineering and [user experience development] as opposed to trying to carve off a team and work in a silo. When you have disruption [such as new technology] you have to recreate the machine and the best way to do that is to get the creative people together with the technologists.”
The BBC has got to the point where it has “mastered being digital”, Rivera believes, which means it needs to move to the next stage of becoming “converged”.
Rivera said: “Right now we’re focusing on executing being connected. I can’t say what being converged means yet but I do know it’s the point at which the lines between radio, TV and online start to blur. Unlike 12 years ago, the tech is able and the audiences – especially young audiences – are willing. The key question is are we [the BBC] willing? Are we ready to start using the internet as a creative platform rather than just a distribution platform?
“I intend to make sure that’s the case at the BBC. The privilege of the licence fee comes with the responsibility to move forward and to boldly go where no man has gone before.”