Podcasts available for longer



We know that the BBC's podcasts are hugely popular with people who know about them and understand how to get hold of them. A recent example is A History of the World in 100 Objects which has had over 12 million downloads so far, over the course of the series. I like this example, first because it's a big number but also because the content itself is stunning.

I also like this example because we've made every episode of the 100-part series available rather than the normal approach of withdrawing the podcasts 7 days after the original programme was broadcast. This means that if you only discovered the series half-way through its 9-month run, it's easy to download any or all of the previous episodes to listen to whenever it suits you.

In research we've recently conducted listeners have been telling us that we should make more podcast episodes available for longer than seven days. More than 75% of podcast users say they want that.

As a result we're now providing extended availability for all podcasts where it makes editorial sense and where the BBC has the rights. This means that:

  • 30 days availability will become the norm for weekly podcasts
  • Most of Radio 4's podcasts will be available in perpetuity (40 out of the current 60 titles)
  • News and sports podcasts will normally remain available for 7 days only, as topical information goes out of date quickly and there is little evidence of people wanting to subscribe to older programmes
  • Daily podcasts will typically be available for 7 days only
  • Some shows will be available for 7 days only because of rights restrictions: Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4, for instance

We're planning further changes because our research also tells us that many people find it hard to engage with our podcasts. There are too many barriers to trying them out and we want to reach out to the people who don't currently use them by demystifying the whole process. Next on the list are: building podcasts into iPlayer and improving the BBC's podcast pages on non-BBC sites like iTunes and on other platforms.

Mark Friend is Controller of Audio & Music Interactive at the BBC


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