BBC launches iPlayer Radio to promote audio content

Rory Cellan-Jones tries out the new iPlayer Radio

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The BBC has launched iPlayer Radio as it attempts to revamp its online audio content.

The new service will see audio content taken out of the existing BBC iPlayer and instead offered as part of a separate service on desktop and mobile.

The service seeks to highlight select snippets from BBC output, including associated video content.

An iPhone app is to be launched soon - however apps for other devices, such as Google's Android, are not yet ready.

The iPhone app also features a built-in alarm clock.

The BBC's Daniel Danker, general manager for programmes and on-demand, blamed complications with Flash for the delay in the Android app, but added that discussions are ongoing to resolve the problems.

Mr Danker said other mobile platforms, such as Windows Phone and Blackberry, were not having apps developed yet - but users on these operating systems can still access iPlayer Radio within the web browser.

The new app will mean users will need to download separate iPlayer apps in order to access either television or radio content.

Mr Danker said this was necessary in order to create apps tailored specifically to type of content being consumed.

There are currently no plans to offer the app to international listeners.

'Fully multimedia'

From 13:00 BST on Monday, visitors to the BBC's radio section will be directed to the new service.

Screenshot of new BBC radio page Radio content will no longer be part of the existing BBC iPlayer

"BBC iPlayer Radio is the platform on which we will develop radio stations as fully multimedia brands so that as well as listen, audiences will be able to watch, share and engage with BBC radio," said Mark Friend, controller of multiplatform and interactive for the BBC's Audio & Music division.

"Our next steps will be to make live radio more interactive, make it easier for people to enjoy the BBC's vast audio archive and strengthen radio's position as the number one place for discovering music in the UK."

The service will incorporate video material as well as social media content from DJs and programme teams.

However, neither the desktop nor mobile service offer the ability to watch content without an internet connection.

'Different job'

The BBC app will come into competition with the recently launched UK Radioplayer app.

Radioplayer is an initiative backed by the BBC and commercial broadcasters which attempts to give a consistent look and feel to listening to radio content on the web.

James Cridland, managing director for Media UK, and radio futurologist, told the BBC he did not believe the two services would conflict.

"UK Radioplayer's app is all about discovery, finding new radio, finding new content to listen to.

"iPlayer Radio is about getting closer to the brands that people already know and like, so they're actually doing a different job - they sit together quite well."

Mr Cridland, who was formerly head of future media for BBC Audio & Music, criticised the BBC for lagging behind other competitors in the area.

"What's interesting is that the BBC have taken so long to get it launched," he said.

"The BBC are very late to the party here.

"When you have a look at some of the apps that are available now - Capital Radio's app is a very immersive experience, allowing you to see more information about the songs being played. They've been available for a couple of years."

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