BBC culls apps alongside text service; BBC Sounds set for TV roll-out

The BBC is to retire its news and sport TV apps alongside red button text at the end of January.

In a move confirmed by the BBC's Chief Technology Officer, Matthew Postgate, the BBC will focus on maintaining the iPlayer app on connected TVs and streaming devices alongside the roll-out of the BBC Sounds app (the home of BBC Radio and podcasts) across connected TV platforms.

BBC Sounds was first confirmed as coming to Sky Q last week, when the BBC announced it was working with Sky to deploy the app.

Content from the iPlayer will be linked to the remaining Red Button+ service on smart TVs and connected set-top-boxes.

The BBC News and Sport TV apps will close alongside Red Button text on 30th January 2020. As reported this evening, Sky Q users have already lost the text service.

The change will remove all BBC text-based information from TVs: Red Button text, as well as the BBC News and Sport apps for TV all contained text-based articles:
Text content on the soon-to-be discontinued BBC News TV app

(Eagle-eyed users will have noticed how the BBC News app for TVs was never updated with the revised BBC News branding launched earlier this year.)

Instead, users will be directed to the BBC News Channel and the news section of the iPlayer for the latest news headlines, or to the BBC website or mobile apps - which will remain the home of text-based information from the BBC.

According to Mr Postgate, the BBC Red Button videostream (BBC RB1) will be retained, so extra coverage of Glastonbury, Wimbledon and other big events won't be directly affected, although it is expected the iPlayer will offer enhanced options and HD.

Explaining the BBC's decision to close services he said:
We want everyone to be able to use the BBC’s services and enjoy our content, but financial pressures and the continued need to spend the licence fee as effectively as possible mean we sometimes need to make difficult decisions.

Unfortunately, to keep red button text services would require significant technical effort and cost, and would come at the expense of investing in other services.

BBC Red Button text was identified as a possible cost-cutting target back in 2015. The BBC has been running multiple services side-by-side over the last few years.

  • On-screen messaging informing viewers of the changes has now gone live on all affected platforms.