Introducing BBC iPlayer Radio

Monday 8 October 2012, 14:11

Andrew Scott Andrew Scott Head of Radio&Music

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Hello, I am Andrew Scott, Head of Radio and Music and Audience Facing Services here at BBC Future Media. Today we announced the launch of BBC iPlayer Radio, previously known as the Radio and Music Product, and I'm delighted to tell you more about this new dedicated home for BBC radio across PC, mobile and tablet.

With iPlayer Radio, BBC radio is available whenever and wherever you want it, thanks to:

  • A new smartphone app, enabling you to wake up to your favourite BBC station and listen on the move
  • New radio station websites across PC, mobile and tablet, offering easy multi-platform access to the full breadth of BBC content
  • Improved catch-up and access to on-demand content, clips, videos and downloads

We have been working on this release for a while now, going through a number of iterations from our first release on about a year ago and our beta this summer, bringing in more features each time. Our Executive Product Manager, Chris Kimber, has been posting updates throughout the process as the product has matured.

Let's take a look at some of the things that are new:

New smartphone app

We are really excited about the smartphone application. We've worked hard on the user experience, and believe that we've built an application which people will find fun and easy to use, and which we hope is just a great way of listening to the radio. The key features include:

  • A touchscreen dial that beautifully shows the breadth of our radio, allowing easy access to all 57 BBC radio stations and their live streams.
  • An alarm clock to let you wake up to your favourite BBC Radio station.
  • From programme pages you can enjoy catch-up content, video clips, access to our podcasts, and for music shows the details of the tracklist.
  • You can set programmes alerts to tell you when specific favourite shows are on.
  • You can favourite tracks and share them with friends via email and Twitter.

We designed and built native applications for both Android and iOS, intending to release them both at the same time. Today we've released the iOS version, Android will come soon. Learn more about the work we've been doing to support Android here. Until the Android app is released, Android users can continue to use iPlayer Radio on the mobile web. As part of this project we've also made live streams available for iOS devices for all stations. We are also keen to make the on-demand content available for the World Service, Nations and English Local radio stations and have a project in planning to do the necessary infrastructure work.

Radio station homepages

Screenshot from iPlayer Radio Homepage for BBC Radio 6 Music

The new BBC Radio 6 Music Homepage

We have launched new homepages for nearly all of our stations, which beautifully reflect the personality of the networks and make it easy for our users to listen live and on-demand. These sites have been exposed to the public as a beta for most of the summer. We've spent that time carefully measuring and working with our editorial partners under Mark Friend to analyse how our users engage with these sites.

We've also updated the mobile websites, usage of which has been increasing steadily: now mobile represents about 18% of our overall usage, with events like Radio 1 Hackney Weekend seeing over 30% of their traffic from mobile devices.

Now we have a platform which allows flexibility and personality for each network, but also encourages users to move between the different network sites. I look forward to building even more on this platform.

New BBC radio homepage

Our new product landing page at is a deliberately bold move to radical simplicity. We carefully researched the way people use our sites and determined that most visitors to /radio are very task-focused - in other words, they know what they want to achieve and just want the simplest way of achieving that.

So we took these user needs and made them as simple as possible on this page.

  • Stations takes me through to the network homepage for each station where I can see what is on live and listen live with a single click.
  • Categories takes me through to the radio categories where I can browse for content.
  • Schedule lets me go through to the full schedule, or the detailed page for the current and next programmes.
  • Favourites lets me quickly find my favourite shows, a feature that we are looking to build out further over time to make this page more and more valuable for our users.

These features are so important that we have also made them available on every page of the product through our navigation bar. We are really excited to launch this simple entry point into the amazing richness of the BBC's radio content, and we are looking forward to making this ever more useful for our audiences.

This page is also our first foray into responsive design, where a single response works across all devices. This approach has been pioneered by other parts of the BBC (iPlayer, News) and brings benefits to the users, such as consistent experiences, as well as the development team, in terms of fewer lines of code to write, test and maintain. We plan to explore this further as we move forward, but are really pleased with this first step.


Altogether we are delighted to be delivering the first version of BBC iPlayer Radio, and look forward to your thoughts and comments so that we can continue to make the product better and better.

Andrew Scott is Head of Radio and Music & Audience Facing Services, BBC Future Media

The new desktop BBC iPlayer Radio sites will roll out over of the course of this afternoon, and we anticipate the iPhone app will be available to download for free from the App Store by Tuesday morning.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I looked at the new Iplayer Radio page.

    My favourites list was empty -- is there no transfer of radio programmes from the Iplayer?

    If not, I cannot find a way to add to the favourites list. Do I have to wait for a complete migration of the service?


  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The new radio home page is awful in my opinion compared to the previous beta radio home page. I personally quite liked being able to see at a glance what was on, and get to the radio stations with a single click, and not have to first click on the 'stations' button. Also now the beta radio station pages no longer load by default, just hope this means they're about to come out of beta.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Will you be able to download programmes direct from the mobile app as you can do with TV programmes? It's a brilliant, valuable feature for TV programmes on iPlayer but you can't do it for radio programmes where it would be really useful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Sounds great. So where is it?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    This really good news, but there is a need to clarify if it will be possible to download radio programmes for listening offline, as we can with the iPlayer for TV. Without that so much of Radio 4 is unavailable offline.

    Oh and Android coming soon is good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    The new radio homepage definitely seems like a downgrade.
    Everything else looks good though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    App looks like the emperors clothes.
    Nothing is there. A very cheap app to develop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    The new radio station pages are a nice improvement overall. Though I'm not too keen on the contrast on the local station pages such as possibly due to the white boxes (ie. Facebook, twitter) currently being empty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    As LUFCRACE wrote in 4 above - where is the link to the iPhone App on the App Store?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The radio homepage would perhaps be better with the "stations" tab already open.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    The introduction video for the iOS application is utterly cringeworthy.

    For me, this confirms one and for all that the BBC has been hijacked by fashion-driven buzzword-spouting Mac-owning Nathan Barley-esque "interaction designers" who are out of touch with ordinary people.

    Look at our custom designed UI widget with sexy animation and it's fun and funky and has personality therefore it must be easy to use! Oh dear.

    I hope everybody involved in this monstrosity feels ashamed and takes a long hard look at themselves.

    You can bet the Android UX wouldn't be so horrific if a single one of them used an Android device on a day-to-day basis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Yet again the BBC favours Apple over Android. Please look up current sales of iOs vs Android, you are favouring a minority.

    Will Android suffer lower quality audio than the Apple version, as it is with the iPlayer (video)? The pessimist in me is starting to wonder if Apple have persuaded the BBC to make the quality of the Apple offerings better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    @Keith: you can see what's on across all the stations from the new product homepage - just click the Schedules button. You can then go direct to each station schedule, or the "live tab" of each station, or the upcoming programme page. Simple as that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Will an app be developed for Windows Phone users?

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    "We designed and built native applications for both Android and iOS, intending to release them both at the same time. Today we've released the iOS version, Android will come soon. "

    So, what went wrong?

    Also, will the Android app be capable of having the screen turnes off while playing the radio, or will it be another pointless Air based disaster? (and yes, it's one or the other)

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Oh, crap, I've just seen the website. Embarassing. Out of touch.

    You do realise that the overwhelming majority of people use low-resolution displays and use a mouse, right? So giant buttons are bad for them? Yes, everyone in your design department owns an iPads and has a retina Macbook and so needs ridiculously sized buttons. You are not representative of ordinary people. Contrary to popular belief, Fitts' law has deminishing returns with accurate pointing devices because it forces you to scroll instead.

    Oh, and you do realise it's good UI design make buttons stand out? Flat buttons are terrible UI design. This is pretty fundamental.

    Oh, but your "interaction designers" have never actually read a book on interaction design and it looks sexy so who cares? Besides, Apple do it in Mac OS X, so it must be good! *sigh*

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I am disappointed that the new website still requires users to install a third party proprietary browser plugin. I am reluctant to install Flash for various reasons (including security) and am therefore still unable to listen to BBC radio online.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    What is the obsession to always focus on iOS over Android. Android now has the largest market share in the UK (Smartphone usage). Get a grip BBC and do your impartial job correctly...your also big enough to release both platforms.
    As for the new android BBC media player...I can no longer watch iplayer live stream on ICS 4.0.3 on my Galaxy note. It jutters about as if i have poor bandwidth...which i do not of course. Playback video is fine. It played perfectly before on Gingerbread both live and catch-up. Please fix.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    So I only had to read down 75% of the article before discovering it was once again currently iOS only for now. Since you refered us back to that awful excuse filled post on the Android Air based Media player I gues some time 2013 like Mobile down loads for Android.

    yawns and continues to work round the BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    I'm not a massive fan of the new Radio homepage - it's a step or two back from what was previously there. On the old version you could see who and what was broadcasting on my favourite stations, now I have to click on several buttons.
    Also where has the Album of the Day feature gone from the 6 Music homepage? I mentioned this when the you released the beta version, but yet it still isn't there. This is a very important part of the station and yet it has disappeared from their homepage.


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