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To Embed or Not To Embed

If I'm honest, I'm not particularly fussed about Russell Brand, though he's clearly a natural at the short form web video oeuvre.

What interests me more about the video above, taken from the BBC's YouTube channel, is that I'm able to embed it into this blog at all.


At launch back in March, all the video clips in the BBC's public service YouTube channel (UK users only - sorry) had embedding disabled at the BBC's request.

Why? In short, a deep-rooted fear of handing over control of context to punters, and a more reasonable concern that the whopping YouTube logo burnt in the bottom right hand corner of every embedded clip would play havoc with people's brand attribution.

For example, here's that clip embedded in Brand's MySpace site. Lots of YouTube branding. No BBC logo in sight.


Yet disabling embedding on the vast majority of BBC clips is a flagrant transgression of BBC Web Principle No. 10 - Maximise routes to content.

The Russell Brand Video Diary is the only BBC public service clip with embedding enabled. It performs well compared to equivalent BBC clips on YouTube.

These two facts are probably related.

Control of context comes at the cost of attention.

Comments (6)

Note: I work at the BBC in the dept that made this russell brand video clip.

We have to embed or it defeats the main point of putting video clips on youtube in the first place. It's just the usual corporate nerves about stepping into a new (digital) space, which will pass pretty quickly i'm sure.

We are hoping to allow embed in all our youtube videos asap, just got to make sure all involved understand what that means...


I can do you one better.

There's an outtake promo of Ideal from BBC three on the YouTube/BBC channel which has the wrong aspect ratio and doesn't allow embedding:


The same outtake clip is also on the YouTube/Baby Cow channel: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=babycowproductions with the proper aspect ratio and it does allow embedding:


the icing on the cake is the Baby Cow video was uploaded 5 days before the BBC one!


What is the reasoning for making the videos available to UK residents only?

The American broadcasters with a YouTube don't restrict access

The Russell Brand clip should be dogged and point back to bbc.co.uk, preferably teasing other related content on the website.

But re embedding - as a BBC person I'm baffled about this too.

It's content that the licence fee payer has already paid for and the Beeb should be making it available wherever users are, whether it's on the official BBC YouTube channel, my Facebook page or wherever. I'm guessing that the Trust's sensitivities about the BBC abusing its market position are forcing the softly-softly approach for now.

But if the BBC were to enable embeds how would you suggest they monetise their BBC Worldwide Youtube channel? They would lose out on any revenue sharing from the contextual ads on their channel page, so... Pre-roll ads?


kate bradshaw:

I thought this'd be a good idea when we relaunched the BBC Two site back in Feb - www.bbc.co.uk/bbctwo - and before we'd got anything up on YouTube. Sadly, this functionality got turned down because our clips might just find their way into the wrong context. Wonder what 'wrong' might look like.

dave crossland:

I'm glad to hear that permitting people to embed correlated with the clip being popular. I marvel at how great it would be if embedding was turned on for all the BBC YouTube video, or even if the iPlayer had no DRM :-)


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