Entertainment Music

Friday 20 September 2019

BBC sparks complaints as it focuses on ‘growing’ BBC Sounds

The new app will replace iPlayer Radio, with its closure beginning later this month.

New Broadcasting House (Jonathan Brady/PA)
New Broadcasting House (Jonathan Brady/PA)

By Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

The BBC has sparked criticism over its decision to switch off its iPlayer Radio app and replace it with BBC Sounds.

Launched last year, BBC Sounds was designed as a “digital home” for audio content, including music, podcasts and radio stations.

But some users have complained it is inferior to the older app.

James Purnell, the BBC’s director of radio and education, has now announced the closure of iPlayer Radio will begin on September 16.

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The BBC’s James Purnell (PA)

The decision has sparked criticism from some users.

@rubyandjoshua wrote on Twitter: “Disappointing that so many features from iPlayer Radio are still missing from BBC Sounds. Over one year on, we live in hope.”

@janetedavis said: “BBC Sounds is horrible and has made radio programmes far less accessible. I don’t understand why we can’t keep iPlayer Radio which works a lot better and is visually less irritating.”

@jwmurphy said: “iPlayer Radio is still far superior both in terms of user experience and design.”

But @LCBrennan supported the move, writing: “I found it a bit difficult to use at first but a big step up from iPlayer Radio when you get used to it.”

Writing in a blog, Mr Purnell suggested improvements to BBC Sounds, which was his brainchild, means it is time to switch off iPlayer Radio.

“I hope you can see how we’ve listened to you over the last few months,” he said, adding that it is “the right time for us to have a single place for all of our audio content”.

He said: “We’ve been improving Sounds all the time, and the time has come to switch off iPlayer Radio so the BBC only has one audio app.

“With the latest app update, BBC Sounds now matches the major features and functionality of iPlayer Radio.”

He said BBC Sounds, with nearly 1.9 million weekly, signed-in users, is used by more people across the BBC’s digital platforms than iPlayer Radio.

Closure of the app will “take a couple of weeks and allow listeners to move over to Sounds” after the shutdown begins on September 16.

Acknowledging that some users gave up on BBC Sounds in its early days, Mr Purnell said those who “haven’t tried it again since launch… might not have seen the improvements we have made and what you can now do with it”.

He added: “Unlike iPlayer Radio, it’s not a one-size-fits-all experience. The more you listen to things you’re interested in, the more it will know to offer you interesting and entertaining programmes that you might not otherwise discover.

“With just one app, rather than two, we’ll be able to focus all our energies on growing Sounds so that we can serve everyone.”

PA Media

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