Most of us in Australia who are connected to the internet, know of the ABC and have a broadband connection also know of iView. It’s natural to think of it in the present tense, as the ongoing service it is, on whatever platform one chooses to access it on. (If you don’t know, ABC iView is the equivalent of BBC’s iPlayer, and several other IP playback mechanisms across the internet – it allows you to catch up on television programs at a time and on a device that suits you).
But like all things, iView had a launch date. After about 6 months of quiet but fairly frantic development it was launched as a public service on 24 July 2008.
I pitched the idea for a full screen IP television service at the first opportunity, around a table where we were discussing the first projects the newly established Innovation Division of the ABC would pursue. By the middle of the next year, along with fellow developer Charlie Szasz, producer, Lisa Romano and others, iView was broadcasting with a small handful of ‘channels’ and as nearly small number of programs.
Aside from design and development, integration issues with ABC’s legendary .asp-based CMS, Wallace, the fledgling state of online rights, the stakeholders and gold mining, what strikes me most about producing iView is the transformation in power of a simple idea from its nascent state to its realisation. Nothing ultimately is as significant as the actuality of the idea’s power. The same story is repeated on all sorts of scales, but the principle is the same. Conceiving of, designing and co-producing iView and the Four Corners Broadband Editions won me the Talbot Award for outstanding contribution to the ABC.
iView was intended to be a disruptive technology for several industries. It was designed to be before its time and in the process be a catalyst for speed of change in the country’s bandwidth capabilities, rights management, television production and scheduling. It was also fitting that the public broadcaster should initiate this disruption.