BBC Uses Semantic Publishing to Power the FIFA World Cup Web Site

Four years ago, the BBC used Ontotext technology to deliver a new approach to publish and manage their content. An approach described as revolutionary by their Chief Architect, John O’Donovan who has recently been appointed as CTO of the Financial Times. Initially, Ontotext technology was used to deliver dynamic content for their World Cup site, which already had more index pages the rest of the BBC Sports website. Since that initial success, different divisions of the organization have adopted this approach for their own content.
This has culminated with the development of the BBC’s Linked Data Platform in January 2013. With Ontotext technology at its heart, the Linked Data Platform will spread dynamic semantic publishing across the organization.

The Goal

BBC Future Media had been tasked with transforming the BBC’s static content management and publishing framework to a fully dynamic semantic architecture. By using ontologies and an enterprise-ready knowledge base with the power of inference, the BBC wanted to minimize expensive editorial management of content assets (e.g. text, video, pictures and data). They wanted navigation of the website to be led by concepts that are important to the consumer (e.g. teams, countries, players, etc.). Without additional costs, they expected to see an increase of content re-use, re-purposing and aggregation.

The Challenge

With 32 teams, 8 groups and 776 individual players, managing the Web site for the 2010 FIFA World Cup was a daunting task. There were simply too many pages and too few journalists to create and manage the site’s content. The BBC needed a way to quickly and accurately generate large volumes of timely content about the matches, groups, teams and players without relying on the costly manual intervention of editorial.

The Solution: Dynamic Semantic Publishing Framework

The Dynamic Semantic Publishing (DSP) architecture developed for BBC’s 2010 World Cup web site curates and publishes HTML and RDF aggregations based on embedded Linked Data identifiers, ontologies and associated inference. RDF semantics improve navigation, content re-use, re-purposing, search engine rankings, journalist determined levels of automation (“edited by exception”) and support for semantic advertisement placement for audiences outside of the UK. The DSP approach facilitates multi-dimensional entry points and a richer navigation, greatly improved user experience and levels of engagement.
Ontotext’s GraphDB (previously known as OWLIM) was chosen as the solution that would be able to deliver all this.

Real Proof: The BBC’s World Cup 2010 Web Site

The BBC Olympics section powered by the semantic technology via GrahDB

BBC’s 2010 World Cup website was the first project running on its Dynamic Semantic Publishing architecture and was deemed a success by both BBC and visitors.
Some statistics about BBC’s World Cup web site:

  • 800+ Dynamic aggregations/pages (Player, Team, Group, etc.), generated through SPARQL queries
  • Average unique page requests/day: 2 million
  • Average SPARQL queries/day: 1 million
  • 100s repository updates/inserts per minute with OWL 2 RL reasoning
  • Multi data center fully resilient, clustered 6 node triplestore

With the DSP Framework, the BBC achieved the desired efficiencies in content creation and curation. As a result they announced that the framework would be expanded initially to the rest BBC Sports section, including their coverage of the 2012 Olympics.

Continuing Success: Linked Data Platform

Since the initial success of the FIFA World Cup site, the BBC has recently committed to creating the ‘Linked Data Platform’, the next generation for dynamic semantic content. The BBC as an organization has the strategic vision to integrate content and products across the entire BBC. This is not a trivial feat for an organization of £5 billion in revenue and 23,000 employees, but the BBC has recognized the significant strategic advantage in being able to deliver products and content in an intelligent and at a finer grain of detail than currently possible. Rather than being limited to one division or genre of content such as sport, TV programs or music, Ontotext technology has enabled the organization to create products, reuse content across divisions and enhance the visibility of BBC content through better SEO while reducing production costs.

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