BBC iPlayer Radio: the place to go for BBC Radio online

Monday 10 February 2014, 11:06

Daniel Bean Daniel Bean Senior Product Manager

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I’m Daniel Bean, the Senior Product Manager of BBC iPlayer Radio.

Just over two weeks ago we launched a new version of the BBC iPlayer Radio homepage which I talked about here. The new homepage looks like this:

iplayer_radio_latest.jpg The new BBC iPlayer Radio homepage

From today users who listen to radio via BBC iPlayer using a desktop browser will be redirected to the new BBC iPlayer Radio homepage.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to look at some of the differences you might notice if you used to find radio programmes via BBC iPlayer using a browser and are using this page for the first time. I’ll also look at some of the feedback about the recent changes from those of you who were already using this page for your radio needs.

One of the advantages of enhancing this webpage is that we can now have just one homepage that gives a taste of all radio across the BBC. We hope this will make it less confusing for users who previously had a different experience on the radio page in BBC iPlayer.

We’ve designed the new BBC iPlayer Radio homepage based on the experiences that are most important to you. Categories and Most Popular are now more prominent, as we know this is your favourite way of finding radio programmes, including actual examples of the most popular programmes and top categories so that you can easily get straight to the programmes you like. Alongside that, you can now get to the national and nations radio station homepages with one single click. You can also visit this page across a range of mobile and tablet devices, as well as on desktop computers.

If you added radio programmes to your favourites in BBC iPlayer you won’t be able to access that list in BBC iPlayer Radio. We looked really carefully at whether there was a way of transferring those favourites across, but it turned out to be either extremely difficult or in some cases impossible. Additionally, some users have different favourites on different devices as they are stored separately on each device, meaning we wouldn’t know which set of favourites to transfer across – the ones from your phone, tablet or PC.

You can still add favourites in BBC iPlayer Radio as long as you’re signed in to the BBC, via BBC iD, where they will be saved from now on. Importantly this also means you can now access your favourites via BBC iPlayer Radio across any device on a browser when you sign in, making it easier for you to keep track of your favourite programmes. We’ll also be adding favourites into the BBC iPlayer Radio mobile application very shortly, something many of you have been asking for.

Another difference you may notice is that when you’re catching up on programmes that you’ve missed the new radio homepage leads you to pages that look like this:


These look different from the ones you may have previously used in BBC iPlayer but their main purpose remains to let you listen again. Over the coming months we’ll be investigating how we can make these pages more streamlined and simple to use, and in fact already have some improvements being released soon.

We’ve had a lot of positive feedback since we launched the new version from those of you that were already using the new BBC iPlayer Radio homepage.  This is encouraging so many thanks for letting us know! We’ll continue to listen to what you have to say and take it into account as we continue to enhance BBC iPlayer Radio for you in the future.

So far, two common themes in your feedback were that the pause button next to the ‘Stations’ tab was confusing and that you missed the ‘What’s On’ tab on the old radio homepage. The purpose of the pause button is to stop the automatic cycling of programme images and information that you see if you’re viewing the page on a tablet or desktop computer. We’re aiming to improve that as part of our next update to the page, making it as clear as possible.

You can still see what’s on-air across the stations if you click on ‘Stations’ on the new homepage, though as you’ve pointed out it doesn’t tell you what’s on next. We’re looking at what the best way of addressing this and will aim to have this updated as soon as we can.

As before, please keep the comments coming via the feedback page, or leave a comment below. I hope you enjoy using the new page!

Daniel Bean is Senior Product Manager, iPlayer Radio, BBC Future Media

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    All very nice, but when is the BBC going to release their own version of the much missed "Radio Downloader" ? My listening has dropped off since the BBC blocked the program last year - 7 day catch-up is too short a time for many people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The site as it was was easy to navigate, and understand, gave a good visual guide as to the kinds of programmes sought and was entirely pleasing.
    As usual though we have "dumbing down", an inept and entirely inefficient change to a tried and tested system, and attempt to make what "works" into something less efficient but suitable for the intellectually challenged.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Are there any plans to bring back the ability to customise the stations that appear on the radio homepage and on the top banner? At the moment it is rather biased towards the nations' stations rather than English local radio, and so includes what to most people must be rather obscure stations such as Radio Foyle and Radio nan Gaidheal. I miss being able to replace them with local radio stations from my area that are more relevant to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Agree with RayB above. I would love to have some version of Radio Downloader. I used it all the time and yes, sometimes 7 day catch up is not enough time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Really dislike new iplayer radio much harder to navigate, schedule page really bad, still no way to listen to a whole series you may have missed. I want to be able to quickly replay or see what I've missed it now takes 6 clicks to find and play where as it used to be 3! I don't want to just listen to featured programs. I love listening to the radio but I feel that I am going to miss more radio and feel put off listening all together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I don't see any way that this is an improvement. The schedules are clumsy, painful to look at and needlessly spread out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    So I now have to add all my favourites again, since some are not currently on air I am forced to wade through countless pages of dross to find them.

    Further the old player allowed discovery of perhaps a dozen similar programmes, the new version offers two.

    And why must we be subjected to white pages (or a full screen picture) under the new regime when the black background was far more suitable for radio.

    So if it works keep changing it until it doesn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    My initial reaction is very negative. Why change something that works and to which we have become used? Antony's comment regarding the number of clicks required sums it all up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I was afraid it wouldn't be long before the nag box disappeared and we were all forced to use the new interface. The new interface gets in the way, I can't find anything and all the great functionality of the iplayer has gone. I'm really upset by this as radio is such a large part of my day.

    The tone of the above piece is one-sided and patronising. There was no need to do this, but we have been overridden and a wonderful, useful web site has been taken away. I'm already missing programmes. I would pay to get the real interface back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Really poor that favorites can only be saved now by signing in. Didn't have to sign in previously and now it's not an option. I don't care about the across devices nonsense as I only listen on my pc. I really don't want to have to "sign in" everywhere. Is this the Big Brother Corp? To confuse matters further, TV favorites are saved in the old way on the iPlayer, i.e. not having to sign in, although if you are signed in then you have to save things again and have a different list. I mean, is this a joke?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I'm guessing the separation of radio from the main iPlayer website is due to the separate 'Radio & Music' and 'TV & iPlayer' products. I suspect in the not too distant future there will be an update to /iplayer to bring it more in-line with the other TV sites.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Some improvements?
    It takes more clicks to access choices.
    If you leave a programme and return to it later, it no longer starts where you left off but back at the beginning.
    You can view fewer of your favourites on screen, so a quick scan to choose something takes much longer.
    You can't immediately see how many episodes are available in a series.
    A massive list of episodes related to one you are listening to may be found, all of which are currently unavailable. Joy.
    My favourites list is now in random order. Obviously makes searching more fun. Doesn't It?
    There is no warning list for soon to expire episodes.
    It took over 30 minutes to access this comments page.
    I could go on. I probably have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    As usual change for change's sake. If you want people to use this and like it then FIX THE B****Y FAVOURITES! I do NOT want to spend all my time searching for the next episode in a series becuase favourites can't do it for me. That was the point of favourites wasn't it? Plus all my old favourites, some of which aren't currently on air, have gone because 'it's too difficult' to import them. You are not endearing yourself to your users with this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I loathe the new page, cluttered and unfriendly. Totally agree with Antony above.I won't be listening as easily and therefore, not as often. I want to have favourites and know what I was listening to last. I don't want the BBC to decide what I want to listen to, and then show me what they think I want, and I'm not interested in stations I never use. (If I wanted them I could find them). It's a horrid experience. nasty cheap looking and - can I come off the fence? - a vile experience. You've not taken the user into account. Shame. I just want to listen to the radio.
    (And you've still got the same old mug shots of people like David Mitchell - what's new in that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I've used the new browser iplayer radio for a whole 110 minutes now, and the first thing that strikes me is that I'm really going to miss the "new favourite episodes available"-message on the front page. Now it seems I have to go into "favourites", then "episodes", and then scroll through them all. Doesn't even appear to be a way to sort them after how recently they've been updated.

    It shouldn't take as long to find out whether one of your favourite programs has a new episode out as a program you haven't favourited. Maybe I'm missing a function somewhere, but it seems a great omission to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    How this can be seen as an improvement in user experience I have no idea. Having stations and the last 3 days available on a single page, was easy and quick, now you get redirected 3 times, have to and eventually you get there. Even the comments are ridiculous, with so many 'updates on the way' why was it even released?

    I don;t believe that there have been that many good comments compared to the number of negative ones. Hut this is the BBC, and we will just get ignored

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    The "iPlayer Radio" lacks many of the basic features of the previous iplayer and adds clutter.
    Where the iplayer remembered what I last listened to and where I stopped listening, "iPlayer Radio" has none of these basic, essential features, I am required to login to keep track of listening, a wholly unjustified imposition. Why are television iplayer users free to watch programmes and track their own viewing, while the radio users are forced to centrally log their activity with the BBC?
    The Favourites section assumes that one has an interest in all instances of a given program, one cannot simply start listening to one and the return later, there is no option to see that previous entry, one is forced to see a listed of unwanted entries. There’s no record of which one has listened to, which one has opened most recently, just blanket programme information with no thought or reference to the listener.
    Restarting a previously listened to programme provides an even shoddier service, iplayer allowed one to pick up from where one left of instantaneously, a seamless service, “iPlayer Radio” seems to require one to keep a log of where one is in a programme and search for a time before restarting, managing listening by post-it notes?
    Navigating from channel to channel on the iplayer was simplicity itself, one mouse click to go from Radio 3 on Friday to Radio 4, “iPlayer Radio” requires numerous navigations, change channel, then change to schedule, then change to day. Increasing faff with no benefit to the user.
    “iPlayer Radio” is only a retrograde step, providing an infinitely poorer service than the iplayer, a sad day for the BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    As with other comments, the new presentation stinks and the failure to transfer favourites is insulting. Why has the previous option to choose been removed without warning? There is too much noise and the suggestion that you know my favourite way of finding radio programmes is risible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I agree with most of the other comments - the new site is clunky and completely counter-intuitive. Apparently not being able to edit the stations that are displayed, the absence of the last three days' programmes on the front page, the increased number of clicks required to do anything, not being able to access/view "favourites" within the same page whilst listening to a programme and not being taken back to the same place in a part-listened to programme. Even the A-Z list now has an superfluous picture for each programme rather than just the text, making the list unnecessarily long. It's a mess. I really can't see what was wrong with having the radio function as part of the normal iPlayer for recent programmes, and all the extra content on the individual station sites as before.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    This is absolutely awful! Far too many clicks and running around to find content, favourites all over the place, full restart for previously paused programs, etc. etc.
    The old iplayer was so easy and satisfying to use, this is a massive backward step, it looks and acts like an inferior mobile site.
    I am very disappointed the BBC went for this option following such a negative response whilst testing, listeners' views are obviously not worth a jot any more.


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