Improvements to BBC Local Radio online
It was a proud day last November when we finally integrated all our local radio stations into the BBC iPlayer. However, as the more observant will have noticed, the audio remained in the same format, Realmedia.
Although our UK wide national stations have been using Flash-based streams for some time it has taken a significant amount of re-engineering behind the scenes to expand use of this technology to all of our nations and local radio stations.
In December we introduced MP3 format to the on demand programmes from our nations stations (Radio Scotland, Nan Gaidheal, Wales, Cymru, Ulster and Foyle), and as of today I am pleased announce that we have extended this to all 40 of our English local radio stations.
So now, when you listen to on demand programmes from any of our radio stations there will be no need for any additional software providing Flash is already installed on your machine.
The improvements don't stop there, in the autumn we will be upgrading all of our live radio streams to the AAC format, and for WiFi radio users we'll also be offering streams in Windows Media.
One of the major problems we have still to overcome is the quality of our source audio for the streams. By their nature, local radio stations are, well, local and thus the emphasis has always been placed on distribution to the local transmitter. As a result we don't currently have high quality feeds of all of our stations in a centralised location and instead the audio used for the streams aggregated through a variety of different methods with varying degrees of quality. Sorting this out will be one of our next challenges!
Watch this space for further developments.
Ian Myatt is Executive Product Manager, Nations & English Regions