The BBC is celebrating its 20th anniversary on the World Wide Web, having launched the BBC Networking Club on 13 April 1994.
The beeb were one of the first major organisations to establish an online presence in the 1990s, way before the internet became popular. The Networking Club was a not-for-profit subscription website offering early social networking, bulletin board features and information about the BBC. It went live to coincide with the first episode of the educational TV series, The Net.
A series of individual websites for key services and programmes, including the World Service, Tomorrow’s World and Top Gear followed soon after, with bbc.co.uk launching in December 1997.
The BBC has pioneered many early internet technologies and carried out a number of significant online milestones, including the first live audio streaming in 1995 for Radio 5 live series, The Big Byte, and a prototype site for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 to test online sports coverage. – BBC
It was also 1997 that the corporation launched BBC Online officially. At the same time BBC News online was introduced to audiences.
The BBC has continued to innovate at the cutting edge of web design and development, from the launch of BBC iPlayer in 2007 to the first truly digital Olympics in 2012. – BBC
From 3.9 million UK adults per week in September 2002, today the BBC’s website reaches around 22.7 million UK adults per week as of September 2012. BBC Online celebrated fifteen years online in the same year.
In a poll, two years ago, of BBC Online users 50 per cent said their top moment was the launch of BBC iPlayer, 15 per cent chose the launch of the BBC website in 1997, 8 per cent said the BBC’s first truly digital Olympics at the London 2012 Games and 5 per cent the launch of websites for children of all different ages – CBeebies and CBBC.
There have also been a few occasions of annoyance such as in 2004 when as part of the on-going look at the future of the BBC Television and Radio remit, a report commissioned by the then Labour government decided that the corporation should ‘redefine the remit of its online services’. The outcome saw a hugely popular drama community Pure Soap axed while its Sports counterpart remained. The reasoning was it was ‘anti-competitive’ to other sites – only there was no other commercial site like Pure Soap.
“The BBC was there at the beginning, helping to usher in a whole host of online technologies that are now ingrained in our everyday lives. The web certainly looked different back then but it has retained the same potential to change our lives for the better, and we continue to be at the forefront of this exciting industry. We’re continually looking at how we can use the technology of tomorrow to bring even better services to our audiences today, and help improve access to information and entertainment.” – Ralph Rivera, Director, BBC Future Media