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Radio on your wrist

Radioplayer on Android Wear

If you’ve followed Radioplayer over the past couple of years, you’ll know that we build things to make radio listening easier. We also spend some of our time doing ‘R&D for Radio’, which means looking into the future, to make sure that radio fits well into some of the new technology that’s appearing.


2014 has seen the growth of a new category of device known as the ‘smartwatch’. These wearable devices link to your phone, and show you important info like emails and text messages. But they can also control audio that’s playing, and run mini-apps of their own, making them potentially useful companions for radio apps.


You can currently find smartwatches from Samsung, Motorola, and LG in the shops. They all use the ‘Android Wear’ system, linking with Android phones, and they’re tipped to be a hot Christmas gift. Apple’s version, the ‘Apple Watch’, will launch in early 2015, which will galvanise this market further.


So we worked with our app partners, All In Media, to build a prototype radio interface for smartwatches. We kept it simple, and made sure it worked with the various watch shapes (round, round-ish, rectangular, square). This seemed to work well, so we’ve taken it one stage further, and rolled it into the Radioplayer Android app, in time for Christmas.


You can see it working in the video demo below, and if you’re lucky enough to have found some Android Wear under the tree, you should install the Radioplayer app and give it a whirl on your watch. Here’s our press release if you’re interested in more information.



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Irish Radioplayer


We’ve just announced that Ireland is to license our technology to launch an Irish Radioplayer. They will join the UK, Germany, Norway, and Belgium as part of the ever-growing ‘Radioplayer Worldwide’ family. More details in our press release here.


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Car News

We’ve just revealed our latest Radioplayer project. It’s a prototype hybrid radio adaptor, for use in cars. We’ll post more details here in due course. In the meantime, here’s the press release we’ve just issued, and a video demo by our Managing Director, Michael Hill.



And here’s how the BBC Radio 4 Media Show covered it.




Consumer? Find out more

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Appy birth day

photo 1

We’ve been pacing up and down the hospital corridor for the last few days, waiting to unveil our new-born Radioplayer apps to the world. Like parenthood, building an app is one of those experiences which you can only guess at, unless you’ve been through it yourself.


As users of apps, we’re spoilt for choice. In a few short years, the app stores have filled up with incredibly powerful software, much of it free. We swipe laconically through the categories, making instant decisions based on a few ratings and some screenshots. And when we do choose to give an app precious space on our home-screen, we open it expectantly, and most of us dismiss it within 20 seconds. Underwhelmed? Uninstall.


So that was all in the back of our mind, as we designed and developed our precious offering. Fortunately, Radioplayer exists to showcase the most creative radio industry in the world, so we’ve got great radio content. Our partners include the BBC, Global Radio, Bauer Radio, and RadioCentre, so we have a huge amount of experience to draw on. And we’re lucky enough to work with top digital design and development companies like All In Media, Unique Interactive, and Codegent.


Ultimately, you’ll judge our new Radioplayer app as you do all apps. Have a play (ideally for a little longer than 20 seconds), and you should find yourself discovering new stations that you’ve never heard before. If you like what we’ve built, please consider leaving a review in the app store. But if you do find yourself hitting ‘uninstall’, drop us a line using the contact page on the Radioplayer website, and it’ll help make our apps better next time.


You can get the free Radioplayer app for iPhone and iPad here. The version for Android phones and tablets is here. Kindle users can find it here. And for Windows Phone, it’s here.


And if you want to find out more about the new app, here’s our press release.







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Pop-up stations


Everything’s popping up – restaurants, tea-rooms, bakeries, shops, cinemas.  So why should radio be left out? A couple of weeks ago, the BBC ran a temporary station called Radio 2 Eurovision, broadcasting from a broom cupboard on DAB digital radio, the iPlayer Radio app, and UK Radioplayer. It was the brainchild of Brett Spencer, Head of Digital at Radio 2 and 6Music.


It’s not the first – previous pop-up stations have included BBC Radio 5 Live Olympics Extra, and there’ve been notable efforts from elsewhere too, with IRF Radio from the folks at the International Radio Festival a couple of years ago, and Jam FM appearing occasionally from the people who do radio with the Scouts.


At Radioplayer, we love helping pop-up stations. Our platform’s incredibly flexible, and we’ve got quite good at making them appear by magic in our apps and our desktop players, then vanish a few days later once they’re off-air. The BBC’s also adept at flexing its DAB multiplex to allow new stations to appear – that’s one of the advantages of the technology.


Pop-ups will probably not attract the enormous audiences that established stations enjoy, but they’re great for creating buzz around an event, trying out new formats and presenters, raising digital awareness…and reminding us that radio can be spontaneous, fun, and simple. So why aren’t there more of them?


One answer could be that getting a pop-up station onto DAB (or FM, for that matter) is perceived as being quite long-winded. We don’t make it easy, as an industry, to try stuff out. They’re much better at this in Australia, where slots on DAB multiplexes are explicitly reserved for special event stations. There’s more in this excellent blog post from James O’Brien.


So could we get more pop-ups going here in the UK? And ahead of the launch of D2 (the second national commercial DAB multiplex), could we use them to encourage experimentation, to help grow the green shoots of next-generation radio?  Here’s a quick wish-list of actions which might help…


:: A fast-track route for pop-up Ofcom license applications. It would need to feel quicker and simpler than the current process.


:: A commitment from DAB multiplex operators, and from services like Radioplayer, that we’ll make it as simple as possible to ‘switch on’ a pop-up station.


:: And some publicity around all this, so that people with great pop-up ideas know that it’s easier than ever. I’m sure the folks at Digital Radio UK would help here.


Pop-ups do require effort, creativity, and co-ordination – but they remind us why we’re in radio in the first place. Because it’s easy to experiment, to reach thousands of people with an idea that resonates deeply while it’s on-air, but which then vanishes into the ether (until you do it all again next time).  Congratulations to the BBC on running such a successful station. Is this where it all stops, or are there more pops?


This article was first posted in Broadcast. Picture from Flickr cc gadgetdude.

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Making money


If you’re a station that doesn’t need to generate income – lucky you! For all the rest, you may be wondering how you can monetise your online listeners without needing a degree in Computer Science to build clever widgets.

Well, we’ve done a lot of the hard work on this already. Built into the new Radioplayer console there’s a suite of commercial features you can control yourself. Some are dead easy, some require a bit of configuration.

So, here are four ways you could be monetising your online listeners using Radioplayer.

1) Join an in-stream service* like AdsWizz or Triton. They insert targeted ads into your stream, sometimes with synchronised visuals. We’ve done the work to integrate the front-end bits into the Radioplayer console for both systems (so you’ll just need to make any server alterations they require). Stations already using AdsWizz in their Radioplayer consoles include Absolute Radio, and those using Triton-enabled versions include Jack Oxford.

2) Switch on ‘click-to-buy’ in your Radioplayer. It’ll automatically take the ‘now playing’ track data you send us, and insert a ‘buy’ button in your console. When a user clicks it, it’ll open the music affiliate site of your choice, and offer the track for purchase. An example of a station already using this feature is Fun Kids.

3) Sell a ‘Radioplayer takeover’ campaign, which displays an ad before your Radioplayer loads. It’s a console-sized web window, containing anything from images and text to video, audio, Flash, or a quiz. You can switch on this feature very easily, and it can also be networked – with one piece of creative sold across dozens of stations. Here it is being tested by Radio Essex, showing a Radioplayer ad.

4) Set up a ‘Radioplayer overlay’ to display automatically over the ‘plugin space’ at the bottom of your console. This can load at the start of a session, or you can make it appear any time. Again, the content can be anything – either silent (with your stream still playing), or with audio (in which case your stream will temporarily mute).

Four ways you can generate cash using your Radioplayer console. We’re here to help, so please get in touch if you need guidance on setting these up.

*Radioplayer doesn’t endorse or favour these particular in-stream systems – they’re just the only ones stations have asked for. Let us know if there are others we should investigate.

Photo from Flickr cc Paul Townsend

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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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