Delivering Quality First: plans for online radio
Yesterday we announced the next phase of Putting Quality First. As part of that announcement, we made the first mention of our upcoming 'Radio and Music product', which created a bit of confusion about our plans for online radio: I hope this post explains in a little more detail.
Yes, we do plan to build a new product for radio but this isn't to cut corners, or downplay what we do for radio online - as with everything we announced yesterday it's because we want to make the service better, not worse. In the case of radio and music, we think this means giving radio its own home.
Radio first became part of BBC iPlayer in 2008 because the BBC iPlayer brand was growing, so it made it easier for audiences, and there were benefits from bringing TV and radio closer together. It's not the only way of listening to BBC Radio online and you can access podcasts through the separate podcast website and also stream live through the network sites. We think this can be made simpler.
The majority of radio listening comes through the radio station web sites rather than iPlayer. At its heart, iPlayer is a product built for TV and audiences have different needs from TV and radio on the web. For instance, in BBC iPlayer nearly 90% of TV requests are for catch-up, whereas radio requests are around 70% live. Hence our decision to build a new product for radio and music that builds in podcasts and plays to the strengths of live radio.
The teams in Audio and Music and Future Media are working together to shape the product. We've not yet fully decided what it will look like, but broadly speaking, here's what we want the product to do:
- Better bring out the personality of the networks, presenters and DJs
- Rich pages for our flagship programmes (e.g. The Today Programme, The Archers)
- Integrate music events
- Be highly personalised and available on lots of internet-connected devices (people want radio on the move)
- Be highly social; pulling in the buzz around live radio
- Become a home for podcasts (both 'catch-up' and 'archive' content), as well as improve the way we offer clips
- Make better use of technology to improve exploration, discovery, sharing, and listening
- Create a new design especially for radio and music
- Link up closely with the TV & iPlayer product (but not duplicate it), sharing links
Also, as we said yesterday, there are things it won't do. It won't offer track-by track streaming or aggregate third party stations, which brings me onto Radioplayer.
Though the BBC have been the technical architects in this project, it's a partnership. With our partners Global, GMG Radio, Absolute and the RadioCentre we want to bring all UK radio together in one place, and any Ofcom-licensed station can be involved. With listeners able to search by genre, presenter, programme and locality, audiences can discover new programmes and stations, and make use of other features. This has been running in beta for a while now, is looking great, and we expect it to launch very soon.
Though we've not yet worked the details through, we think both projects add up to a vastly improved online radio experience for audiences and hope to share more details soon.
UPDATE: In response to the queries in several comments below. Existing iPlayer/BBC website features including 7 day catch up, live streaming, podcast, clips, selected archive and availability on other devices will remain and be fully integrated into the new product/player.
Daniel Danker is General Manager, Programmes and On Demand, BBC Future Media & Technology
- Detail about the strategy review and the cuts to BBC Online in blog posts from Director of FM&T Erik Huggers and from head of BBC Sport Online Ben Gallop plus two posts from Managing Editor, BBC Online, Ian Hunter, one about social media and one about cutting the number of BBC web sites.
- iPlayer's audience figures are published monthly on the BBC Internet blog.
- Radioplayer has its own web site where you can learn more about the project from Managing Director Mike Hill.
- The Putting Quality First web site has background on the earlier stages of the exercise.