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