BBC iPlayer Radio: two months on

Executive Product Manager

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Hi, I'm the Executive Product Manager for BBC iPlayer Radio.

The last two months have been exciting for BBC Radio on digital platforms: in October we launched BBC iPlayer Radio, bringing together all of the BBC's English language radio stations (57 of them!) into one coherent digital product across desktop, tablet and mobile.

We launched our first smartphone application for iOS devices, which has now been downloaded over one million times, easily surpassing our expectations.

We continue to work hard on releasing an app for Android devices which will offer a great experience, and that continues to be our number one priority. More on the mobile app on my colleague James Simcock's blog post.

BBC iPlayer Radio across all platforms now reaches around 6 million UK unique browsers per week, breaking all previous records, which is 30% up compared to October 2011. We are seeing a significant increase (almost one fifth, 18%) in traffic to the product homepage, which receives over a million unique browsers per week, and which in turn is sending higher numbers of people to the individual station sites: Radio 2 saw a 31% increase between September and November, whilst Radio 4 saw a 9% increase.

Generally we are seeing an increase in the proportion of our total visitor traffic coming from mobile and tablet devices, with now almost one quarter (24%) coming from mobiles, and 10% from tablets. This is in part down to the new mobile app, but also people browsing and listening via their phone's browser.

iPlayer Radio on mobile web

Another interesting change we are seeing is an increase in visitors to both Categories and Schedules. The use of Categories has increased by 83% between September and November (although the actual numbers are still relatively low) whilst Schedules increased by 10%. This is partly due to their prominence on the product homepage and the navigation bar which runs across all pages, and partly due to visitors using new ways to find the content they are looking for. Also, perhaps not surprisingly, more people are using the left/right arrows to navigate through the tabs on station homepages than are clicking on the tab names.

iPlayer Radio catagories

Audience Feedback

The majority of the feedback has been great, with constructive suggestions for how we might improve the product in future releases. There are a number of key feedback themes emerging:

1. Some people miss the overview of what is on-air across all stations. This was previously more obvious on the old homepage (although we still have that view here but it is less obvious and visual than before) and being able to listen live directly from this page.

2. Some listeners, especially from Radio 4, have found it harder to find the programmes they love and want to listen to on-demand, whether using the search facility or browsing.

3. A number of people were put off using the "Favourites" feature because initially it only allowed you to add a single episode instead of a whole series to your personalised list of favourite programmes.

What we've done since launch

This feedback has been extremely useful, and has already led to some changes which we have implemented.

1. The new product homepage was certainly a radical change from what went before it, so I wasn't surprised that some listeners missed the previous page. Our thinking was to make a very simple page which allowed users to quickly get to where they wanted to go, without presenting an overload of information.

To address the specific concern around seeing what is on-air now across all the stations, we are looking at making this much more obvious, so expect to see some changes in the new year. We have also made the homepage tabs addressable, meaning you can bookmark or share them. For example:

2. To help listeners find programmes we have made the "Programmes A-Z" link more prominent, added in the key programmes to the programmes drop down in the navigation tool bar, added more categories, and made a significant change to the way our programme search works, meaning you no-longer have to type the exact programme title, and search results show programmes even if they are no longer available to listen to (after 7 days for most programmes).

Programme A - Z

3. To make the product a more simple and personalised experience, you can now follow a programme series rather than just a specific episode. So when you click on Favourites in the toolbar, you see a list of the programmes you are following, not just individual episode which may have expired.

iPlayer Radio Favourites

On top of this, we have now enabled playback of audio clips (sections of whole programmes) so users on smart phones can listen on the move. This is particularly useful for those who want something short to listen to whilst out and about.

Please continue to give us your feedback via our Feedback page and do follow us on Twitter for frequent updates.

Chris Kimber is Executive Product Manager, Programmes and On Demand, BBC Future Media

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