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BBC reveals online red button for Virgin Media, but not Sky

The BBC has reinvented the red button for smart TVs, launching today on Virgin Media. But licence fee-payers on Sky miss out.

Press red to get connected: the BBC has reinvented the red button, unveiling the new connected red button for smart TVs. Developed with Virgin Media, the new Web-powered red button will add extras to Internet-connected TVs -- unless you're a Sky viewer, that is.

The new red button launches today on Virgin Media TiVo, and shows up on other Web-connected TVs over the next few months. Auntie Beeb has signed a partnership with Virgin to develop TV technology, so expect to see more next-generation goggleboxery from the pairing in future. Funnily enough, "technical limitations" mean it's "not expected" to come to Sky, as the Beeb says Sky's system is too closed.

Press the new connected red button and you can see other shows from any BBC channel, ready to watch any time. Basically, it's an iPlayer button, allowing you to start watching catch-up and on-demand episodes without having to go to the iPlayer app first.

Even if a channel like CBeebies or BBC Three is off-air, you can still get your fix of Rastamouse or Snog Marry Avoid without having to find it on iPlayer. You also get news and weather headlines just one press of a button away.

The new red button also continues to offer a different angle on sporting events such as Wimbledon, streaming different matches to what's on the main telly, or showing clips. Extra content and streams from music and entertainment events such as Glastonbury will be added in future too.

As it's all arriving over the Web, there's much more potential for cool stuff every time finger meets red button, without any of the restrictions of limited airwaves. The BBC has promised that the new red-button service will allow you to interact with programmes using your phone or tablet, which is the next stage after bringing the service to different platforms.

One cool feature promised for the future is the option to bookmark content for later if you're not in the mood right now.

If you don't have a Web-connected telly, you can still press red to watch extra clips, play along with Antiques Roadshow, listen to commentary on the dances on Strictly and enjoy other interactive bits and bobs to go alongside the programme you're watching, all beamed into your aerial instead of over the Web.

Will you use the connected red button? Are licence fee-paying Sky customers missing out? Hit the grey button in the comments or change channel to our Facebook page.