Everywhere you go, always take the BBCi Freesat Weather Service with you

Published on 29 May 2008 in , , , , ,

I seem to be making a bit of a habit of missing the BBCi Freesat launches. After being away for the initial launch due to being on holiday, I missed the launch of the new Freesat Weather service on Tuesday due to being ill with a chest infection.

Freesat set top boxes

There’s clearly a greatness to my lateness. Honest. Indeed, I even joined the BBCi Freesat team later than most of the team – about a month or so in to the project. I’d been consulting the Freesat team on a very limited basis – giving them a few editorial pointers whilst the recruitment process to find a producer for the project churned on – however it was firmly on a very limited basis.

As such, I missed out on most of the early pre-planning sessions where the team looked at the work that needed to be done, and tried to decide what they could do in the available time.

When it comes to BBCi, the corner stones of our service are News, Sport and Weather. They’re used regularly, and in significant numbers. So I was naturally a bit disappointed when I found out that the team didn’t think they’d be able to fit Weather in for the Spring launch.

Even worse, when it comes to usage figures, the corner stones are Weather first, followed by Sport and then News. We were to launch without our most popular content. Not good news.

To call it frustrating is an understatement. My early site maps featured the optimistic hope that the team would find things much easier than they’d expected, and could include at least some integration with the Weather publishing system for the spring launch. But it was not to be. There was no way round it – Weather would be missing.

(Of course, actually there was a way round it – we could have built Weather first. But we wouldn’t have been able to finish off News and Sport in time for launch either, leaving BBCi on Freesat as being Weather and little else. In contrast, if we did News and Sport first, we’d get Business, Entertainment and Community thrown in for free – so whilst it would still be Weather-less, we’d have a much more rounded service)

Actually when it came down to it, the team’s estimates were unnervingly accurate. The initial release was up on our live satellites exactly when it was supposed to be – BBCi on Freesat appeared in April and was running silently in the background until the formal launch in May. Meanwhile, work on filling in the Weather gap got started.

Weather map on the Freesat version of BBCi

Improved map graphics were sourced, icons were positioned, templates were built. Feeds were found, publishing systems were adapted, and appropiate shades of blue picked.

And lo, it was finally ready. And today it all launched. Weather is go – late for the party, but ready to join in and boogie.

As a nice bonus, you can also punch in page number 155 and get all the comments for Question Time too – by popular demand, this was added a month ago to the other versions of BBCi. As we were busy preparing for launch at the time, it we didn’t have chance to put it in for the initial launch but it’s there now and ready to enjoy.

With Weather out of the door, there’s just the simple matter of the Olympics. For BBCi, the Olympics are huge – back in 2004, nearly 9m people used the BBCi Olympics service on Sky alone – and this year it’s expected to be even bigger. And on Freesat too.


  • Mike Smallman says:

    Just got Freesat in Snowdonia, a great move as Freeview reception depends on a signal reflected off trees, not cool.
    Have standard Bush Freesat box but can’t get subtitles on S4C and BBCi weather shows symbols but no maps???
    Looking forward to more channels in the future.

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    Don’t know about S4C’s subtitles, but we have a Bush SD box in the office and ours does show the maps correctly so it’s a bit odd that it’s not.
    One thing that may help is doing an update of the set top box software – there should be instructions in the manual. There were a few bugs with some of the early boxes (of all makes), however they’re being fixed.

  • Mike Smallman says:

    Thanks for that Andrew but I have tried updating and also doing a first time install again. Still no maps showing just symbols?
    Checking info shows
    Bush model 00
    hardware 1.3
    software 1.1.12
    Wondered how compared with your office box. Tried Bush site but they just have Q&A section and want 10per minute if you phone them…..
    Cheers again

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    Next time I should probably double check what I say before posting it! Just plugged our Bush SD box in and we are very minus maps as well.
    Which is very curious. I’ll see what I can find out.