Category: Radio; Radio 3
Live performances of Beethoven's first five symphonies, broadcast as part of The Beethoven Experience on BBC Radio 3, have amassed an incredible 657,399 download requests during a week long trial.
The downloads - launched on 6 June - offered complete Radio 3 programmes containing live performances of the symphonies by the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.
They were available free of charge and therefore not eligible for the Official UK Download or Top 40 Singles charts, although the public's enthusiasm for the programmes is evident from the individual totals:
Symphony 1 (6 to 13 June) - 164,662
Symphony 2 (7 to 14 June) - 154,496
Symphony 3 (6 to 13 June) - 89,318
Symphony 4 (7 to 14 June) - 108,958
Symphony 5 (7 to 14 June) - 139,905
Roger Wright, Controller of Radio 3, said: "The response has been incredible and much bigger that we expected.
"The success shows Beethoven's enduring appeal and we hope this will encourage new audiences to explore online classical music."
Simon Nelson, Controller of BBC Radio & Music Interactive, said: "This trial was all about gauging listeners' appetite for downloads and the results are astonishing.
"We are hopeful that we have attracted people who wouldn't previously have explored much classical music, as well as inspiring others to embrace digital technology."
Gianandrea Noseda added: "I'm thrilled that our performances have reached such a large, new audience and hope this trial will encourage more people to experience and enjoy orchestral music live in concert."
The downloads were available for seven days after their broadcast (Symphonies 1 and 3 from Monday 6 June and Symphonies 2, 4 and 5 from the following day), as well as available streamed for seven days from the BBC Radio Player.
The trial formed part of Radio 3's Beethoven Experience (5-10 June), in which the complete works of Beethoven were broadcast in one week.
The remaining symphonies - numbers 6 to 9 - will be available to download for seven days after they are broadcast later this month, with dates as follows: no.6 (the Pastoral) on Monday 27 June; no. 7 on Tuesday 28 June; no. 8 on Wednesday 29 June; and no. 9 on Thursday 30 June.
Listeners should visit bbc.co.uk/radio3 for more details.
The BBC recently announced it will be offering up to 20 programmes as podcasts and downloads, as a time-limited trial to give a more detailed picture of audiences' appetite for downloads and to inform the development of the BBC strategy for audio downloads and on-demand content.