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Africa-built digital player goes live on BBC World Service

The BBC World service has announced the launch of a new digital player designed and built by digital innovators from Africa. Called BBC Minute CatchUP, the player can sit within any online page and will let users hear and share the latest edition of BBC Minute.

Built by social enterprise hub RLabs, CatchUP is specifically created to work well on smartphones. BBC Minute CatchUP was designed in Cape Town, and comes from one of the development studios (aka ‘hackathons’) held earlier this year by the BBC World Service and BBC digital innovations team, Connected Studio.


“African audiences have become ‘mobile-first’ before the term has become mainstream for western media, and World Service has a very impressive record of growing mobile and social segments of our digital reach,” says Dmitry Shishkin, Digital Development Editor for the World Service. “While planning these hackathons our task was to find new ways of reaching digital audiences in Africa – to offer them a huge array of great content, relevant to them”.

Read more: BBC World Service launches Kenyan hackathon to ensure its digital future in Africa

While the winning Cape Town entry is already live, it’s set to soon be joined by another pilot to come from the Connected Studio programme. BBC Drop which was designed in Nairobi and will launch online in the coming weeks.

Drop takes the form of a responsive website that shows users BBC news content specifically tailored to them. BBC Drop asks the user for a few favourite topics, or social media preferences, and then continues to learn what they like and dislike from what they swipe on screen. There is also the option of an even more personal news feed which incorporates the user’s own social feeds.

BBC Drop

The site was built by Ongair, a Kenyan startup which develops products that make it easier for companies to engage their audiences on instant messaging platforms.

Read more: BBC World Service, Connected studio look to SA for new ways of distributing audio content

“It is extremely important for us that we are taking selected pilots from ideas into live products, developed from scratch by the audience – for the audience,” says Shishkin. “It is exciting that the BBC can be at the forefront of these developments in Africa, and we hope the ideas can be used in other regions of the world. The team can now see their idea performing in real life and we hope the audience enjoys trying it out”.

The pilot for Minute CatchUP will be available for three months via BBC Taster, an experimental area for new BBC products.

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart is the editor-in-chief of Engage Me Online. After pursuing an MA in South African literature, he spent five years reporting on the global technology scene. Intrigued by the intersection of technology and work, he joined Engage Me as the editor-in-chief. He is a passionate runner, and recently ran... More

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