Radio 1 to have dedicated iPlayer space

Ben Cooper Ben Cooper wants to reach the 'head down' generation

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The controller of BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra has announced plans to expand Radio 1's presence on BBC iPlayer.

Ben Cooper, who will celebrate three years in the role this October, is proposing to launch a 'dedicated space' for Radio 1's visual content within the BBC's catch-up service.

Radio 1's iPlayer content would be longer than most of the clips on the station's YouTube channel and visible for 30 days when the catch-up window is extended.

'We anticipate that one or two new pieces of visual content will be posted per day, with a peak around coverage of live events like Radio 1's Big Weekend - as already occurs,' wrote Cooper in a blog post.

Radio 1 has adopted a 'listen, watch, share' strategy for the past few years, acknowledging that younger audiences want to engage visually with radio content before distributing their favourite snippets on social media.

The strategy led Radio 1 to becoming the first radio station worldwide to gain one million YouTube subscribers, while it also has some 1.8 million 'likes' on Facebook and even more Twitter followers.

'Radio is far from dead,' the Radio 1 controller stated. 'Indeed, radio listening remains remarkably healthy - each week, for example, over 40% of all 15-24-year-olds in the UK tune into Radio 1. But they're not listening for as long.'

Cooper wants to ensure that what he calls the 'head down' generation continues to engage with Radio 1 content on their phone, laptop or tablet screens.

'BBC iPlayer is a natural home for our videos, given that around 25% of 16-24-year-olds already use it on average each week,' he said.

Radio 1 content is already featured on iPlayer to some extent, with a 45-minute One Direction programme presented by DJ Scott Mills appearing recently.

Currently, however, the content is considered for the platform on an individual basis, rather than having a dedicated place.

'Our core focus will always be about making great radio programmes and discovering new music,' he continued, 'but we're now in a world where almost everyone expects to be able to see key moments - and then share them with friends.'

Although the plans are still subject to regulatory approval, Cooper said he hoped that it would be a way to engage with younger audiences, as well as providing a different avenue into the rest of the BBC.

But it does not signify a move into traditional TV programming, he added, and will continue to be related to Radio 1's broadcast output.

As such, audiences on iPlayer can expect to find musical performances from Radio 1's Live Lounge, as well as highlights from music events, interviews and features.

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