Written by Radio

Radio Downloads Added to iPlayer

The BBC has announced that from 2014, listeners will be able to download radio programmes via the various iPlayer mobile and desktop apps to catch up with offline. As with TV, there’ll be a 7 day catch-up window.
In some respects, it’s really strange that it has taken this long to get. You’d imagine that the TV agreements required are far more complex than for radio. But then perhaps the demand was greater for TV, and that’s where the effort was placed.
But this will be a boon to listeners who want to listen to stack up radio programmes for occasions like long journeys: download some programmes on your mobile device at home via WiFi and then play them back avoiding potentially expensive mobile streaming costs. The 30 day playback window means you have something to listen for all but the very longest of holidays.
It’d be great if commercial radio could do something similar, and of course some operators do make programmes available during a catch-up window to stream. Making programmes available to download is another question though. Because of the requirements to encrypt the audio and give files an expiration date, this is more of a technical challenge (although certainly not insurmountable). But perhaps the biggest issue is seeking agreement with the various copyright bodies – PRS and PPL – to allow a station to do this.
We live in a world where people expect to be able to watch or listen to what they want on their own terms. Making radio programmes, portable and shareable is a key part of this.
While the latest BBC iPlayer data shows that only 16% of requests for radio are for on-demand programming (p14), it’d be foolish to surmise that it’ll always stay this way. I think that the growth of mobile requests (p7) is of key importance here. That’s particularly the case now that there are both iOS and Android apps available.