BBC unveils iPlayer Radio as music streaming heats up

8 Oct 2012
iPlayer Radio

iPlayer for Radio is available online or via an iPhone app

The BBC has unveiled its much-rumoured iPlayer Radio, as Deezer and Spotify continue to do battle.

iPlayer Radio will allow users to listen live or on-demand, either via their browser or an iPhone app. An Android verison is in the works, but has been delayed by problems with Flash, the BBC said.

There are no plans for versions for Windows Phone or Blackberry, and it will only work in the UK.

Users will be able to save favourites, watch video clips, search for programmes - but not, it would seem, for specific artists - and use the built-in alarm clock to wake up to their favourite station. The system will only work with an internet connection; there's no offline version.

Mark Friend, controller for multiplatforms and interactive, wrote in a blog post that the number of people accessing BBC radio stations and events over mobiles and tablets has leapt this year. "For example, during the week of Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend, 34% of browsers visiting the site came via mobile and tablet," he said. "In the week when traffic to the Proms site peaked, 20% of browsers accessed the site via tablet. Last month saw an 88% year-on-year increase in reach to our mobile-optimised sites."

Rival players

The launch comes days after the release of the UK Radioplayer app, offering a similar service for other stations, and as streaming services such as Deezer and Spotify work to figure out a business model for on-demand music.

Music-on-demand service Deezer has just won £81 million in new funding from the owner of Warner Music, saying it now has 26 million users in total, of which two million are paying subscribers.

Spotify, meanwhile, had four million paying users out of a total 15 million as of August, but lost £2.1 million in 2011 - although that was a large improvement over 2010's £26.5 million loss.

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