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Introducing BBC iPlayer Radio

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Andrew Scott Andrew Scott | 13:11 UK time, Monday, 8 October 2012

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 bbc.co.uk/radio 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 www.bbc.co.uk/radio 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.

Summary

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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