Red Button Interactive
A British TV phenomenon more than anything, and not to be confused with Big Red Button
Red Button Interactive
is a generic name for interactive services within a TV broadcast- the advent of digital television allowed broadcasters to create rich, interactive multimedia experiences, like an advanced Tele Text
, but not quite as good as the internet. Initially these were found in a separate menu, but eventually became accessible in tandem with live broadcasts, by pressing the remote control's red Fasttext button.
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A technology rather than a trope, in the strictest sense, but still something that makes up part of a production, so it tends to be used in the exact same way by similar productions, or in a bespoke fashion as and when required, and as such is rarely in-, sub-, or a- verted. For the most part, the information on this page will be examples of the technology over lists of times it has been used.
The first major use of the technology was to provide alternate angles for football coverage, by Sky Sports- during selected Premiership matches, viewers could choose to watch the entire match from one of four angles consistently, or switch between them at will, as well as pull up statistics, highlights and other information. This was later expanded to all football matches, as well as some rugby and cricket. The BBC
have also adopted similar services for their sports coverage.
This was later extended to audio selection, offering a choice of commentary tracks or even just the crowd noise.
The musical audition show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria
also had a karaoke feed.
Extended Live Coverage
first used this for Big Brother Live
— instead of dedicating its entire satellite channel E4 to broadcasting house action live, it broadcast it during the channel's down time (it was not a 24-hour channel at launch) and broadcast its normal programming for the bulk of its normal time, while still offering the option to watch BB by pressing the red button. This happened in a similar fashion to the way Sky Sports offered football above, with a choice of two camera angles, two looping highlights reels and text-based news updates.
Most used by Reality TV
— or at least programmes with a 24-hour ongoing element — but it is not unheard of to see it used for longer event and news coverage without upsetting the standard schedule.
Sky Sports would use this to broadcast eight football matches simultaneously on one channel regularly — repeating all that day's Premiership matches as live, allowing the viewer to select which match they would like to see, without having to run eight entire channels. The BBC
also used this for live coverage of The Olympics
, for event or match selection respectively.
Sky News and BBC News have also used this to run a number of separate feeds, generally kept to different subjects, selectable at will.
DVD Extra content
Short clips, broadcast on a red button feed after the main programme has finished. Programmes to use this include:
- Genius included outtakes and ideas that didn't make the grade for the show itself.
- That Mitchell and Webb Look Cut sketches and interviews.
- Nevermind The Buzzcocks Team captains Phill and Noel would debate "which was better" between some musical topic and something that sounds like it. Wizard was considered to be better than Wizards, while Coldplay were considered inferior to cold sores.
- Casualty on the BBC does this sometimes, with Red Button Specials; minisodes that feature an epilogue, prologue or other view to that week's, or sometimes the previous week's, story.
One of the more 'interactive' uses of the form, the service would allow the user to play along with a Game Show
, occasionally for prizes. Programmes to use this include:
Simply used instead of a phone to vote in programmes with phone votes- used almost exclusively by Reality TV
, but also occasionally by music channels. MTV
, as an example, used this to generate a daily top ten chart, and for the brief period of time the UK version ran for, Total Request Live
A simple replacement for Tele Text
. Notably used by The BBC
, Sky and MTV.