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Diving into the data

Picture cc 'shinealight'

One of the fastest-growing ways of listening to internet radio is on mobile phones and tablets. At Radioplayer, we launched our own mobile app in October 2012 for Android and iPhone; and in September 2013 we launched a tablet app for iPad, Android and the Kindle fire. We also launched an app for Windows Phone just before Christmas.



The Radioplayer apps are designed to make it easy to discover new radio stations. Our innovative “Recommended” feature suggests radio stations and programmes for you – depending on where you are in the UK, what stations are trending, what else you’ve listened to, and even the type of music you like.



Now that the iOS and Android apps have been in use for some time (more than a million people have installed them), we’ve been able to drill into the data, and find out how people are using them.  In particular: are people using the Radioplayer app to discover more stations? In the spirit of openness and collaboration, here’s some of what we’ve learnt.



Typically in the UK we listen to less radio over the weekend than during the week; so you’d expect the Radioplayer app to show similar behaviour. We certainly wake up a couple of hours later over the weekend, according to our app figures;  but Radioplayer app listening is, unusually, just as high over the weekend as it is during the week.  



In fact, the peak weekend time for the Radioplayer apps is 3pm on Saturday (coinciding with football kick-offs). This is one place where the search engine in the Radioplayer app is useful – letting football fans know which radio stations have match coverage. The second highest peak over the weekend is 4.00pm on Sunday afternoon – which coincides with the start of the chart, as well as more afternoon kick-offs in the Premier League.



During the week, the Radioplayer app has the effect of lengthening the ‘radio day’ – being used earlier in the morning, and later in the evening, than typical radio listening patterns suggest. This is good news, as it means we’re helping people stay with radio for longer.



You might guess that the Radioplayer app is used mostly on-the-move; but, it turns out, two-thirds of Radioplayer listening is done on a wi-fi connection, rather than using 3G. This sounds a little counter-intuitive for a mobile app, but it shows that Radioplayer is often used instead of a radio – perhaps, in a room in the house which doesn’t have a radio in it (like many peoples’ front rooms).



But what of the central question – does the Radioplayer app help people discover more UK radio stations? The answer is a resounding YES.



In our tablet app, listeners sample an average of 4.6 stations a week, far more than the typical radio listener (for analogue-only listeners this figure is just 2.1, according to RAJAR). So, with the Radioplayer app, people are discovering more radio stations – just as we hoped would happen.


Give them a try for yourself, and you’ll see why they encourage you to listen to more fantastic UK radio. Just click the ‘Apps’ link at the top of the page, or search ‘radioplayer’ in your app store.


Picture cc ‘sharealight’

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Discover your perfect radio, with Radioplayer

Photo cc Craig Grobler (cropped)

Alan Davies (photo cc C.Grobler)


From Boxing Day, you’ll start hearing our new ads, presented by Alan Davies. The message is ‘Discover your perfect radio’, and it’s aimed at all the lucky people who’ve received gadgets under the Christmas tree. As Alan tells us – with Radioplayer, your new computer, iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Android tablet, Kindle Fire, and Windows Phone can all become the perfect radio.


Here’s a sneak preview of one of the ads


You can download our apps for free from our ‘Apps’ page.


Happy Christmas radio listening!


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Radioplayer, working in partnership with Ford

Radioplayer FORD Sync screenshot

Today, at a landmark digital radio conference at BBC Broadcasting House, we’re unveiling a project we’re particularly proud of. A few months ago, Ford chose Radioplayer as their UK launch partner for an amazing new in-car system called ‘Sync Applink’. It lets you control apps in your smartphone, using your voice, while you’re driving.


Here’s a video of our MD, Michael Hill, demonstrating the system.



Here are some details about the project. Get in touch using the ‘contact’ link if you want to know more.


December 16, 2013



Radioplayer, the online listening platform backed by the BBC and commercial radio, has been chosen as Ford’s launch partner for their new SYNC AppLink technology.


SYNC AppLink lets you control smartphone apps while driving, using voice commands and dashboard controls and debuts on the all-new Ford EcoSport (SUV) next year, ahead of being rolled out across the Ford range by Autumn 2014.


The new SYNC-enabled Radioplayer was demonstrated today (Dec 16) at the Go Digital conference at BBC Broadcasting House. The video demo was filmed at Ford’s HQ, and shows a fully working system being used in an EcoSport.


Radioplayer is already available on tablet, desktop, and mobile – with top-rated apps in the iTunes and Google Play stores. Ford SYNC technology has been built into these apps, allowing drivers to browse hundreds of stations using voice commands.


Michael Hill, UK Radioplayer Managing Director, said:  “Radioplayer’s excited to be chosen by Ford as their launch partner for SYNC AppLink. People love listening to the radio in their car and our new partnership makes it easier than ever.”


Key features of Ford SYNC AppLink with Radioplayer’s app include:


- After pairing a phone, say ‘Radioplayer’, and you can browse the best of UK radio, using just voice commands and the controls on your steering wheel

- In ‘Recommended’ mode, the Radioplayer app chooses stations you might like, based on where you are, what’s trending, and what you’ve listened to before

- Say ‘Favourites’, and you can quickly find stations you’ve set as pre-sets

- In ‘Recents’ mode, you can go back through stations you’ve listened to recently

- Say ‘Now Playing’, and the app reads you programme and track information


As much as 20 per cent of radio listening is done in vehicles – more so by van drivers. Ford has put almost 500,000 DAB-fitted vehicles onto Britain’s roads over the last six years and they now account for half of Ford sales.  Owners of the 1,000,000 Ford vehicles in the UK without DAB can order a £199 radio upgrade for all Fords up to eight years old.


Anthony Ireson, Ford Britain marketing director said:  “Ford is further advanced than most manufacturers along the digital radio road.  Our co-operation with Radioplayer is the next step to appeal to the fast growing number of internet radio fans who want to take their favourite online stations into their cars and vans.”



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Next generation Radioplayer

You may have noticed a new look spreading across desktop Radioplayer – the pop-up player you use at your computer. We’ve spent months designing, building and testing what we call our ‘v3 console’. It takes a surprising amount of technology to make things simple! As a user of ‘v3′…


- You’ll see a cleaner, more contemporary look to the player controls, with a new ‘now playing’ display, and a really easy way to save your favourite stations.

- You’ll enjoy our supercharged search engine, with suggested results appearing as you type. One click, and you’re listening to live or catch-up radio.

- Click our new menu button at the top left, and you can find the stations you’ve set as favourites, plus you can browse live and catch-up radio from across the UK.

- And we’ve made a ton of under-the-bonnet improvements, to make the player load faster, sound better, and look slicker in your browser.

Absolute Radioplayer

And as a station….


- We’ve made sure your stream will play on a device without Flash. If a user visits in Safari on an iPad, they’ll now be able to hear you.

- We’ve incorporated click-to-buy, which you can switch on if you want, and link to the affiliate music store of your choice.

- There are built-in ways of showing promotional or commercial messages in your Radioplayer, as a standalone station or as part of an ad network.

- And you can easily ‘plug in’ high-end digital solutions like video pre-roll, or ad-replacement (eg Triton/Adswizz).


Every one of the 360-odd stations in Radioplayer is switching to the new-look ‘v3 console’. More than half have made the change already – click ‘listen’ at the top of the page and search for Capital, Absolute Radio, Kiss, talkSPORT, Free Radio, or Fun Kids. The BBC are also in the process of switching, and all their stations will be using the new player within weeks.


Many thanks to our partner groups for collaborating on this important project (BBC, Global, Real/Smooth, Absolute, and RadioCentre). And huge thanks to Codegent (who designed the new player), to GMedia (who built it), to Unique Interactive (who look after the systems that power it), to every one of our stations for their support, and to the millions of regular Radioplayer listeners.


Codegent have put together a nice overview of their design work here, and our MD, Michael Hill, spoke about the new tablet and v3 players at the nextrad.io conference recently – video below.


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The Radioplayer story

Not of interest to all, but if you’re in the radio business elsewhere in the world, and you want a quick view of what we’ve just launched and where we’ve come from, here are a couple of videos.

This one’s from the excellent nextrad.io conference, who kindly invited us to speak about our new tablet apps and upgraded desktop player.

And this one’s a little older. It’s a more general talk about the Radioplayer project, delivered to a Flemish audience at the VRT in Belgium.

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Tablet Radioplayer

When Tesco jump enthusiastically into something, you know it’s gone mainstream. They’re apparently selling 7-inch Android tablets at £119 from next week.

As far as we can tell, people in the UK currently do between 10-15% of their web browsing on tablets.  And when they are using their tablets, they tend to linger longer on them, than they do on their PCs or phones.

In many ways, tablets make perfect radios.  They’re usually on good wi-fi connections in the home, where people have time to listen. They have great colour screens, most have decent speakers, and they’re increasingly linked with hi-fi systems. And many of the other things people do on tablets (Facebook, music listening) can help us recommend radio to them.

So, having kicked off with desktop Radioplayer in 2011, and moved on to our smartphone app in 2012, 6 months ago we challenged ourselves to build a brilliant tablet radio app. An ambitious aim – but there were plenty of average radio apps out there already, and there was no point in adding another.

Today we launch that Tablet Radioplayer, and we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved.

* We wanted to show off the amazing breadth and depth of UK Radio, so we created a ‘dynamic dashboard’ of stuff to listen to.

* We wanted to give each listener a joyful moment of discovery, so we built a new recommendation engine powered by, among other things, Facebook ‘likes’.

* And for the first time ever, you can now save programmes as Favourites, as well as stations. When people see this, they’re amazed. Some have called it a ‘Sky Plus for Radio’.

We built all these features, and more, into a beautiful, simple design. If you have an iPad or an Android tablet, please try it. If you like it, leave a nice review, so others will find it too. We rely on your word-of-mouth support, as we’re a small non-profit organisation.

This is the iPad version (also works on iPhones).

This is the Android Tablet version (there’s a separate Android app for smartphones).

And this is a short video tour of the new features.

Thanks to: Codegent for the design, All In Media for the build, Unique Interactive for the clever bits at the back-end, and Leo Andrews for project-managing it all.  We’re also very grateful to our partner and member stations for their continued support – and most of all, to our listeners.

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Top tips for digital campaigns

At Radioplayer, we’re lucky to be able to ask people from across UK Radio to help us with their time and expertise. One such person is the brilliant Sarah Ordidge, who co-ordinates our marketing activity. Here, she shares her experience of running a digital campaign.

Top 5 tips for DIY mobile advertising, by Sarah Ordidge

Now I’m by no means claiming to be an expert on mobile advertising (in fact I am very much a dummy), but having recently administered a DIY campaign for Radioplayer I feel like I’ve developed a bit of knowledge on the topic so thought it might be worth sharing some tips based on my experience.

To give you a bit of context, we ran our campaign to drive downloads of Radioplayer’s iOS and Android apps.  We targeted mobile phone devices using Google Adwords, Facebook Mobile App Install Ads and Promoted Tweets.   We administered all of the activity ourselves using online accounts – which incidentally all have very different interfaces, and for a novice like me aren’t actually as easy to use as they claim!

Anyway, here goes…these are my top 5 tips for DIY mobile advertising:

Monitor and tweak your campaigns regularly for the best results:  Don’t expect to just turn your campaign on and leave it to run! Google and Twitter offered me a great deal of customer support and helped to administer the campaign, provided regular updates and offered recommendations on how to improve results.  For example, after a couple of weeks we were able to see that with Google our “search” ads were working better than expected, so we reallocated some of our budget. Facebook, on the other hand, offered me very little customer support.  If you’re running a substantial campaign and you are juggling a busy workload you might want to consider using one of their Preferred Marketing Developers (a community of Facebook advertising specialists), but there will be a cost associated with that.

Use the most recent SDKs (Software Development Kits):  To help track the performance of ad campaigns, SDKs need to be integrated into your Apps.  Google and Facebook have their own SDKs but there are several versions.  Check your App developers are using the most up to date versions for more accurate tracking, and ensure you allow time to implement the SDK as it requires an App update.  Note: Twitter doesn’t provide an SDK at present.

Keep your ad content fresh:  People tend to view their mobile social media quite regularly so things can become stale quickly.  Twitter in particular needs to be fresh and current – users get annoyed if they see the same messages over and over again and they aren’t afraid to tell you publically! Also, try to make sure your promoted tweets sound as conversational as your regular tweets and not like ads.

Practice makes perfect! Don’t expect to get everything right the first time round.  Keep experimenting with different targeting and creative executions.  While this can make administering the campaigns more complicated, it means you can test how different combinations work, and it also gives you greater opportunities for quite specific targeting. On Twitter, think imaginatively about what sort of accounts your target users might follow – don’t just list the obvious ones.

Don’t expect mobile advertising to do everything: The small ad sizes mean there are limits to how much information you can communicate to your audience, and while our post campaign analysis shows that mobile definitely helped to drive downloads of the App, awareness, usage and downloads were greater during periods when we also had broadcast activity running (radio and outdoor). There’s a growing body of evidence to show that campaigns need to strike the right balance between long-term investment in brand-building (using mass media to build reach), and short-term activation through digital.

One of our many different Facebook ads

One of our many different Facebook ads

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A personal milestone

Photo: A.M. Kuchling

Photo: A.M. Kuchling

An update from Michael Hill, MD of Radioplayer

There are some arbitrary milestones we set ourselves in life, and we’ve just passed one of mine in the latest set of RAJAR listening figures, out today. It’s the first time online radio consumption has caught up with listening through digital television (Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media etc).

This moment seemed a long way off when we first started talking about improving listening on ‘connected’ devices like computers. Back in 2010, online was languishing at about 2.8% of all radio listening, and digital TV was at about 4.4%.

Now, we’re neck-and-neck, with each platform delivering 5% of all listening. This still leaves huge room for improvement, but it’s prompted me to look back at where we’ve come from, let you know what we’re up to this summer, and give you an idea of where we’re headed after that.

‘It just works!’

That was our target when we launched the first shared Radioplayer interface, for desktop machines. We wanted to make it as simple to play your favourite station on a computer, as it is on a radio. That consistent reliability has helped us attract 6-7 million unique users a month, and to grow online listening hours by 33%*, and online listening share by 38%*, since we launched.

‘Spoilt for choice!’

Once we’d got UK Radio in one place, we built some mobile apps, to help people discover the fantastic range of that radio. These free apps (for iOS, Android, and Kindle) make clever recommendations to help you find stations and shows – based on where you are, what else you’ve listened to, what’s trending right now, and what music you love.

And this summer, brand new versions of our apps are coming to tablets too – iPads and Android. We think these devices will make impressive radios. They’ve got lovely big screens, many have decent speakers, and they’re often used in the home, on wi-fi connections. These apps will be our best work to date, and they’ll make great showcases for UK Radio – particularly some of the brilliant new digital stations.

Also this summer, a major upgrade of our web player console, for all Radioplayer stations. It’ll play on non-Flash devices like iPads, and every part of the interface will be improved – including search, favourites, and ‘now playing’ information. For our commercial stations, there’ll also be a range of audio/video/display formats built in, which they can choose to switch on if they want to increase revenue from the digital traffic they’re now attracting.

‘Blimey, that’s clever!’

And beyond that, we’re doing some seriously challenging work integrating radio apps into car dashboards,  building better digital radios (which automatically find the stations and programmes you want, regardless of how they’re being broadcast), and working across the industry to help define the future of radio.

It’s a future that’s never looked brighter – and it’ll be powered by partnerships. Thanks to the BBC, Global, Absolute, Real/Smooth, RadioCentre, and our hundreds of friends across UK Radio and the world, for helping us get this far.

* RAJAR audience data Q1 2013 vs Q1 2011

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Webview Week, by James Cridland

A compilation of webviews

A few weeks ago I helped organise something called Webview Week for the UK Radioplayer.

It’s the second coder’s event we’ve had at Radioplayer. The first was a day around what a mobile app might look like: UX and design specialists from across our partners in the radio industry came up with some unexpected and interesting ideas, which – in part – led to the success of the current Radioplayer app on Android, iPhone and Kindle Fire.

Webview Week, as the name might suggest, was a concentrated week of coding for radio stations on their webview inside the Radioplayer app. The webview is the station-specific portion of the app that appears when you tune in: for some stations, like Heart, Capital or Absolute as an example, it’s a bespoke view with information and branding; but others had left the app to use a default view which – containing a logo and a piece of text – is slightly less interesting.

Visuals for radio are vital for the future of the medium. Today’s younger generation have grown up with colour screens on everything, and to them music has always been ‘visualised’, whether on music television or YouTube. Visuals help brand recall – vital for RAJAR and advertisers alike. So Radioplayer felt it important to ensure that radio inside the Radioplayer mobile app looks great, as well as sounds great.

Recognising that stations might have to fit this work in with other things, and appreciative that not all media companies are based in London town, the event was a mostly virtual one. Using GoTo Meeting (thank you, RadioDNS, for your help with this), we met virtually on the Monday, and highlighted some of the opportunities that the Radioplayer’s JavaScript Bridge offers a developer. Then, we shared APIs, documentation and a few development apps for iOS and Android via BaseCamp, a collaborative system that allowed us to offer help during the week.

On Friday, those that had taken part mostly met in London (with URY taking part from their studios in York), to show and tell what they’d done. Michael Hill, Radioplayer’s Managing Director, was on hand to see what people had come up with, and with a credit card for a pub afterwards. (The Angel, if you wondered: a Sam Smith’s pub with “man in the box” on tap).

The afternoon was eye-opening. The Radioplayer JavaScript Bridge, a nifty piece of code that enables webviews to communicate directly with the app itself, was intended to be used for some simple controls and to communicate information to the webview (like what song is playing, as one example). But the use that it had been put to was fascinating.

Folder Media, the operator of digital station Fun Kids, had used the code to produce an impressive and very graphical interface for their listeners – and, also, to ensure a high amount of statistics to help the station understand when and how people tune in, and what they do when they listen. They’d integrated their bespoke Radiobase system into the webview, to ensure that it automatically pulled things in from their website for display in the app: even videos.

Lincoln’s community station Siren FM had used the JavaScript Bridge for relevant messages to the listener, at a time they might respond. Once they’d been listening for twenty minutes, for example, a listener might be gently nudged to make the station a favourite – if, of course, they’d not already done so. They, too, had also integrated information from their content management system, the ever-popular WordPress.

The BBC had taken the opportunity to simplify their webviews for users: trialling a clearer and smarter interface that focused on the current on-air experience. This should lead thinking of their webview development later in the year. UBC, the technical team behind many of Radioplayer’s systems, had worked on the default webview, to make it a clearer and more informative experience for both live and on-demand listening, including links to discover more; and RaW also worked on their own website.

And there were more stations and services, too; from RaW, UCB, and Media UK. (I didn’t do very well in the end: but did manage to produce a proof of concept using Remy Sharp’s twitter.js, pulling in station Twitter feeds.

We’ve learnt that a service like BaseCamp was very helpful to people to help them develop; and we’re looking at the possibility of doing something similar on a permanent basis – and we’ve also learnt that passionate, creative developers make some pretty surprising things. We also learnt that the BBC prefers Taddy Porter, the Radioplayer team like Soverign Bitter, and at least one of the students went for cider. Fruit-based drinks aside, it was a really interesting week, and one we hope to do again.

Jonathan Cresswell from Siren FM has also blogged about the webview week

James Cridland is Radio Futurologist and Managing Director at Media UK.

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Get involved!

Radioplayer is all about making radio listening easier and more enjoyable. And if we work on this together, across our small industry, we’ll hopefully make it more consistent, too.

But collaboration doesn’t just help to achieve consistency. It’s actually the most effective way of working. ‘We are humans because we are able to co-operate’ says Howard Rheingold, an expert on collaborative innovation. Here he is, speaking to the ‘Spark’ programme on CBC Radio, about the value of working together.  

We love getting brilliant people together in a room, to help us make Radioplayer better. So we’re going to run another ‘hack’ event – this time aimed at improving our new mobile apps – available on iPhones, Android, and Kindle Fire (just search ‘radioplayer’ in the Amazon Kindle store). 

We’ve deliberately built a ‘blank canvas’ into our apps, to encourage innovation and competition. Once a user chooses a station and it starts playing, that station is able to display whatever they want, via a ‘web-view’. Into that blank canvas, stations can push images, videos, text, tweets, adverts – the sky’s the limit. And it’s really easy to do, as it’s basically a web page – so we can experiment, share ideas, and help all our stations improve. 

Some are already using it to great effect – here’s a selection of the best examples from Capital, Absolute, Juice Brighton, and Smooth. But what would YOU like to see in this space? If you work at one of our 350 member stations, look out for emails about how to get involved, and innovate in your own web-view.

And if you just want to chuck a great idea into the collaborative pot, you can always drop us a line at contact@radioplayer.co.uk.

Station Screen Examples

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