Feeds

Big Brother refunds Facebook credits after vote crash blunder

Deal with punters keeps Ofcom sweet

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Ofcom has let Channel 5 off the hook after it agreed to let Big Brother viewers carry over surplus Facebook credits, or get a refund, if they were unable to vote in the show's evictions.

The last series of Big Brother was a UK telly first by accepting votes through the use of paid-for Facebook credits. However, these had to be bought in advance and at the last minute overloaded servers left some viewers unable to vote. They complained to Ofcom, and the broadcaster decided that viewers could carry over, or get a refund on, the credit rather than face any censure from the regulator.

Big Brother is a TV show which sees a selection of social misfits locked in a house, with viewers invited to select who they'd like to see kicked out until the least-offensive participant wins the game. At one point the show was entirely funded by viewers' votes, which are submitted as premium-rate SMS messages, and despite the falling audience, the voting revenue is critical to the show's success.

To increase that source of income, the programme's bosses had to make it easier to vote, which was the point of introducing Facebook voting. Facebook credits, costing 6.5 pence each, were bought in blocks of 10 or 50, with each credit being worth one vote. That made voting cheaper for the viewers, but brought in a similar amount for the broadcaster as the mobile network operators weren't involved.

But when it came to the crunch, ten minutes before the final vote closed, the systems become overloaded and a number of votes didn't get processed in time. Prospective voters got angry as the Terms & Conditions were clear that no refund would be available, and the credits would not be carried over to another series of Big Brother.

Channel 5 has recanted on both those issues, and promises nine-times more server capacity next time around, which was enough for it to escape any further action by the regulator. Ofcom also noted that there weren't enough unrecorded votes to change the outcome of the show, which must be a relief for Channel 5.

But it is a bump in the road while on the way to more flexible revenue generation. Voting by text has worked well for years, but creating messages and typing in numbers is more complicated than tapping on a face on a screen, and easy voting means more revenue. We're in the middle of a one-year trial permitting voting-within-applications, which runs until August 20, after which Ofcom will decide whether to make it permanent.

As first steps go this was a small stumble, but unlikely to shake the industry's faith in the concept. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook's Zuckerberg in EBOLA VIRUS FIGHT: Billionaire battles bug
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contacted as site supremo coughs up
Space exploration is just so lame. NEW APPS are mankind's future
We feel obliged to point out the headline statement is total, utter cobblers
FedEx helps deliver THOUSANDS of spam messages DIRECT to its Blighty customers
Don't worry Wilson, I'll do all the paddling. You just hang on
Down-under record: Australian gets $140k for pussy
'Tiffany' closes deal - 'it's more common to offer your wife', says agent
Internet finally ready to replace answering machine cassette tape
It's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells
The iPAD launch BEFORE it happened: SPECULATIVE GUFF ahead of actual event
Nerve-shattering run-up to the pre-planned known event
Win a year’s supply of chocolate (no tech knowledge required)
Over £200 worth of the good stuff up for grabs
STONER SHEEP get the MUNCHIES after feasting on £4k worth of cannabis plants
Baaaaaa! Fanny's Farm's woolly flock is high, maaaaaan
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Swiss wildlife park serves up furry residents to visitors
'It's ecological' says spokesman, now how would you like your Bambi done?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.