BBC in partnership with a team of developers from Kenya has rolled out a BBC-tailored news content app for smartphones with social media integration called BBC Drop. The app was designed specifically work well on smartphones.
The project started last year, through hackathon contents held by the BBC World Service and the BBC digital innovations team, Connected Studio. The hackathon contents saw the participation of many African techies’ teams.
BBC Drop was born out of the hackathon in which BBC tasked the participating teams to come up with an innovative way to reach out to the African youths. BBC was looking for a product developed by the winning team that will meet the condition of connecting to the youth via digital media and social media. Social media integration was an essential requirement for the product developed, given many African youths are very active in social media.
A Kenyan startup Ongair was the winner of the hackathon, and they were selected to undergo an incubation process to develop further their idea. Together with the BBC, they developed the BBC Drop app, which will enable users to get their favorite news topics. While at the same time incorporate their social media accounts.
Dmitry Shishkin, the Digital Development Editor for BBC World Service, said: “This latest innovation highlights the BBC’s strong commitment to serving young digital audiences in Africa; both editorially and technically. Digital revolution in Africa offers media companies great opportunities to grow the reach of their journalism and I am very happy that an African tech startup is playing a key role in it.”
How the BBC Drop works
Once a user download and installs the BBC Drop app on their smartphone, they will be asked a series of questions that will enable the app to learn your favorite news topics. The app will then bring you news feed related to your favorite topics and keep you updated. You can also integrate various social media accounts, and together you will get news feed from both your various social media accounts and the BBC news highlights based on the topics you had selected.
For the next three months, the BBC Drop will be available on BBC Taster, and users can start using it and rating it. It works across all screens and devices. The content is tailored to each user’s interests based on what they like and what they dislike; the liked content being shown and disliked content never shown.
The aggregation of the content and their tagging is made possible through the BBC Juicer a cool tool that was created by BBC News Labs. The BBC Juicer takes news content from across the globe and tags them into relevant specific topics automatically.
The rolling out of BBC Drop comes hot on the heels of another successful app designed by African techies; the BBC Minute Catchup; a news catch-up tool that was designed by South African techies. The BBC Minute Catchup is still in the pilot stage but has already been viewed more than 290,000 times since its launch in Nov 2015.
Other developments at the BBC focusing on Africa include the launch of an African edition of the bbc.com site and an Africa live page. These two platforms act as the go-to platform for Africans on the continent and in the diaspora for the latest updates on news from across the continent. The BBC is also targeting the growing and already massive Africans on various social networks, and the media house is curating contents that are shareable and clickable on the different social media outlets. The content is delivered by reporters stationed across Africa hired by the BBC.
It would also be interesting to note, that the BBC Connected Studio team has been pitching a tent in Nigeria from the beginning of this month. They are again looking for the next innovative idea from the youths in the West African country. The startup idea they will select must have the potential to scale across the continent and beyond.
BBC Connected Studio calling out to Startups in Nigeria to apply to its Hackathon
The BBC Connected Studio has launched a similar the challenge program to digital companies and startup businesses in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole. The Studio is tasked with delivering BBC’s digital presence in collaboration with other digital players in the industry.
Interested digital companies in Nigeria can find out more information about the BBC digital program at this link. Nigerian startups have until February 15, 2016, to submit their ideas to the BBC pilot program.