The author of this commentary is the general manager of Radioplayer Worldwide, responsible for all Radioplayer countries outside the UK.
Radioplayer, the not-for-profit broadcaster-owned and -operated aggregator platform, has spent the lockdown period adding new countries across Europe and increasing audience reach.
Radioplayer is a unique initiative where broadcasters have come together to fund a joint platform where they can ‘Collaborate on technology and compete on content’ ensuring that their content is available in one place just like on the radio.
Radioplayer aims to keep the user interface simple whilst focusing on a highly rated user experience.
Radio has been incredibly lucky over the past year. With many people confined to home, listenership internationally has increased as people appreciate the companionship that radio offers as well as access to local and highly trusted information. During a national crisis, trusted news from where you are is vital.
Surprisingly, maybe, at this time exactly a year ago when coronavirus forced people to stay at home, Radioplayer saw large increases in online listening on all its platforms internationally.
Despite being at home, people were accessing radio via their computers, phones, tablets, TVs and smart speakers which nowadays are the new radios, especially with the younger demographics that are so important for radio’s future.
It is almost 10 years now since the BBC and commercial radio in the UK saw the advantage of working together on a shared platform and Radioplayer was born.
Norway and Belgium liked what they saw and joined the UK. Radioplayer grew across western Europe and nearly four years ago Canadian broadcasters joined the family.
However, the rate of growth in the last year has been something else. In the early stages of the pandemic last year, Radioplayer Italia launched and in November it was the turn of the Netherlands. Sweden should have launched by the time this article is published, followed not far behind by Radioplayer France.
In each country, Radioplayer is licensed to a local organization running a not-for-profit platform in that country on behalf of the broadcasters there. We are run by broadcasters, for broadcasters.
And that is the real secret of Radioplayer, the ability to pick up the phone and speak directly to the key personnel at every member broadcaster ensures that Radioplayer can represent the radio industry across the private and public service spectrums like no other organization.
Radioplayer has three main pillars to its customer facing platforms.
The first is automotive, with the car dashboard being identified as the place where radio has always dominated and, not surprisingly, the industry does not want to lose its prominence there. The dashboard is joined by smart speakers and connected devices and by the traditional platforms of apps and web players.
Countries are free to choose what products are launched locally. Radioplayer products place the smallest of stations on the same level as their much bigger and better resourced cousins. A country could also choose to join Radioplayer only for our automotive business-to-business work.
Equally important though is the power of the Radioplayer collaboration.
With many of the world’s biggest broadcasters sitting around the Radioplayer table, Radioplayer can speak with a single industry voice to the automotive sector as well as the platforms that carry live and on demand radio. They know that when they speak to Radioplayer, they are speaking to the much wider industry in one conversation.
They also know that through the WRAPI (the Worldwide Radioplayer API), they have access to live and accurate metadata from thousands of broadcasters as well as streams and content that come from trusted, licensed broadcasters. The car companies and platforms don’t need to worry about sports or music rights because this is official broadcaster content.
Radioplayer’s work with car companies is growing. We have been partnering with Audi/VW Group since 2017 to power their amazing hybrid radio experience with more to follow.
Our partnership model is unique in the automotive world and involves a direct collaboration with broadcasters to keep radio strong and prominent in connected car dashboards. For Radioplayer, this is about the broadcast/hybrid radio experience when a driver or passenger presses the button marked “radio.”
This is founded on the use of our official broadcaster metadata via the WRAPI but also includes technology and design support, requirements to meet certain user experience criteria and collaboration on development of the future radio experience. Radioplayer is currently running an ad campaign in the UK based around the future of radio in the car, as shown here:
The hybrid radio experience that Radioplayer champions is platform-agnostic so it doesn’t matter if your over the air transmissions are FM, DAB or HD Radio or a mixture. One of our user experience rules states that over the air transmissions, where available, will always be favored over IP saving both broadcasters and listeners from unnecessary data costs.
Despite recent successes, the Radioplayer team is not sitting back. Conversations are taking place with more new countries as broadcasters realize how important it is to add their voice to the industry conversation.
Radioplayer stations reach an audience of approaching 400 million people in Europe and Canada and serve around 80% of radio listening in those regions so not surprisingly the Radioplayer team are spreading their sights wide and setting challenges in new regions and territories.