What's the difference between downloads, podcasts and streaming?


Downloading means taking something from the internet and saving it on your device so that you can listen to it when you're not connected to the internet. If you've downloaded a radio programme, podcast or music mix, you can refer to it as a download.

What you can download depends on what device you're using to access BBC Sounds:

  Radio programmes Podcasts Music mixes
BBC Sounds app Most* Yes Most*
BBC Sounds website on a computer or laptop No Yes No
BBC Sounds website on a mobile or tablet No Yes No

*Sometimes, radio programmes or music mixes won't be available to download for rights reasons. If they are available to download, they're still subject to rights restrictions so are only available for a set period of time, even after they’ve been downloaded. In most cases this will be 30 days but some programmes, mainly sports events, may only be available for shorter periods or not at all.

Check our How do I download on the BBC Sounds app? to find out how to download on your mobile or tablet.


A podcast is an edited piece of content which can be a complete radio programme, an edited extract or highlights from a programme, or completely unique content with a particular theme made to be subscribed and listened to as a series.

You can download and listen to podcasts on your computer, laptop, mobile or tablet, and they're also available to listen to on some internet radios. Unlike downloaded radio programmes and music mixes, most podcasts don't expire once you’ve downloaded them and are yours to keep. However, not all radio content is available as a podcast.


Streaming a programme, podcast or music mix means listening to it online, i.e. without downloading it. You can stream a programme or live radio station by finding it on the BBC Sounds website or BBC Sounds app and pressing Play.