Main content

BBC Sounds

Overview

BBC Sounds is at the centre of the BBC’s digital listening experience, re-inventing and growing BBC Radio and Music. Created in response to today's world of on-demand content and audio streaming, the app will transform the way audiences discover and enjoy our output. It aims to give people, especially younger listeners, the best in entertaining, experimental and highly creative audio. Our podcast commissions for BBC Sounds will be distinct and will serve that younger audience who are already more likely to listen online and on-demand.

Commissioning Process

There are four briefs in this round which is a rolling one with no closing date for proposals:

Commissioning Brief 103005: Funny, Quirky Odd

These podcasts are an irreverent but information rich take on the world using humour to enlighten and entertain. Podcasts in this space will devise formats to tackle everything from politics to science, fashion to finance. They highlight new and interesting voices and characters that make you laugh.

Commissioning Brief 103004: Dramatic Storytelling

The biggest brands in podcasting have been focused on ambitious stories in fiction and non-fiction (drama). These podcast commissions will tell big stories over long story arcs, tackling complex subjects and characters in depth. These investigations and dramas will be bespoke commissions with episodic frameworks designed to make the best of the stories.

For more information about the US and UK drama podcast market, read BBC Sounds-commissioned research.

Commissioning Brief 103003: Discover, Explain

These podcasts provide thinking tools and context for a younger audience who navigate a fire-hose of information daily. They are podcasts that are longer form answers to the video explainer and in recent times have given rise to a new generation of daily narrative-focused news podcasts. In a highly engaging and inventive way, they give listeners key facts on particular topics. These podcasts cover news and current affairs, contemporary history, sport, technology, lifestyle and health issues – offering key skills and insights the listener can take away and use in their lives.

Commissioning Brief 103002: Pop Cultures, Sub Cultures

Side-swiping conversations that celebrate fandom, popular culture and the joy of being obsessed. Surprising and odd conversations that explore the nooks and crannies of identity, culture and our place in the digital world.

BBC Sounds Audience Research and Insights

As well as this rolling round, there may also be time-bound, targeted commissioning rounds run throughout the year to fit alongside the wider BBC creative calendar or to fill a specific content gap. If you are on the Radio Supplier Database, you will be notified of these opportunities via email.

Commissioning Timetable

THE FOUR STAGES

STAGE 1: IDEA GENERATION

• Submit your Full Proposal – parts 1 and 2 - via Proteus.

STAGE 2: INITIAL EVALUATION – EDITORIAL – up to 90 days

• Jason Phipps, Podcast Commissioning Editor, and the Commissioning and Curation team will assess your proposal against the Assessment Criteria

• After a maximum of 90 days from the point of submission, you will be notified via Proteus that:

- Your proposal has been rejected

- Your proposal will be moved directly to stage 4 and final evaluation

- Your proposal will be moved to stage 3 for a maximum of a further six weeks.

STAGE 3: IDEA CLARIFICATION – up to six weeks

• The Podcast team – plus, where necessary, content experts – will arrange approx. two meetings within the maximum period of 6 weeks to discuss your idea and shape it ready to be potentially greenlit.

STAGE 4: FINAL EVALUATION – STRATEGIC FIT, VALUE FOR MONEY AND RISK

• You may be asked for an interview as part of the final evaluation stage. This may be required to ensure due diligence around higher risk commissions – e.g. on-going strands, podcasts with potential serious legal or editorial implications or podcasts that will be considerable investments in terms of time and money.

• The evaluation team will evaluate your Proposal against the Assessment Criteria taking into account the responses given during the interview, and any additional material requested.

FEEDBACK

If you’re unsuccessful after attending an interview, you may request feedback.

What makes podcasts distinct from radio?

A cheeky list of 11 ‘commandments’ of podcasting!

1. A podcast is not a radio programme even if radio programmes are consumed as podcasts.

2. For a younger generation who will never own a radio, podcasts are their radio but, reread rule 1.

3. The story and topic will always be the guide for the length of a podcast.

4. Podcasts are built for the headphone generation, be respectful, warm and gentle inside their heads.

5. Use your f-bombs wisely; be informal, be intimate, but, the freedom to use raw language does not mean it’s an obligation.

6. Podcasts are a visually powerful form of audio, they can be cinema for the ears.

7. The angels are in the detail, podcasts tell big, thorny and emotionally complex stories, real and made up.

8. Podcasts offer clarity in chaos; in a manic news cycle, podcasts offer focus and context.

9. Podcasts are tribal; they bond and deepen communities.

10. Regardless of where they spring from podcasts are natively global digital forms of audio.

11. Podcasts are agile; they can take all the rules above and change them, except rule 1.