I wonder how much the BBC spends on R&D, and is it still justified? Their hit rate seems quite low but maybe that's normal for R&D. But it seems like rebuilding iPlayer repeatedly isn't a particular problem that R&D seems to solve. If the BBC still need an R&D department it should be much more tightly focussed.
BBC have done interactive TV / branched narrative stuff before (see Attack of the Graske, Test the Nation and so on). It's fun and gimmicky, but has high production overheads and little use. And the technologies it was built in have all disappeared so there's no longetivity to it. At the time, the BBC hailed interactive TV as a new medium, after TV and radio, but they eventually closed the interactive TV team as a waste of licence fee money. In pursuing this again (but with shinier technology) it seems that the BBC tech departments have no accumulated corp experience and too much cash to blow.