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BBC tests personalised, data-driven documentary

Uses the viewer's mood, personal preferences and the choices they make to personalise the experience

The BBC’s R&D team has launched a new data-driven documentary that looks to use the viewer’s mood, personal preferences and the choices they make to personalise the experience.

The documentary employs the StoryKit tool, previously used on the special interactive episode of BBC Click.

Instagramification, which is aimed at 18-34 year olds, uses BBC R&D’s StoryFormer, a web-based tool for authoring responsive stories. It is available via the BBC Taster website.

According to BBC R&D development producer Nick Hanson, a lot of consideration was given to diverse personas within the target audience: “Sometimes the viewer might want to be entertained, whilst other times they will want to learn something. Some viewers like sport, others prefer celebrity culture, and so on.

“Through breaking these preferences down we were able to shoot and edit slightly different versions of what is fundamentally the same story. Using StoryFormer we were then able to build multiple routes through the documentary. The viewer only sees the content that fits with their preferences or the choices they’ve made along the way.”

StoryFormer graph

Before they begin watching the documentary, viewers are asked to complete a short survey which is used to generate their version of the film.

According to Hanson, there are a number of things the R&D team can learn from the test, including production considerations such as how much extra material would need to be shot and how the process differs from traditional television workflows. “There are also big editorial questions such as does playing with the components and structure of a story actually lead to more meaningful, personalised experiences?” he said.