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BBC hopes to compete with Apple and Spotify for UK podcast listening


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British broadcaster the BBC has just published its ‘annual plan’ for the next year, outlining its strategic priorities. One of them is its BBC Sounds app, which the corporation says has now been downloaded more than 1.8m times in the UK, and attracts a weekly audience of more than one million listeners.

“A major part of our focus is on new formats and podcasts that will bring us new users. We want to accelerate the development of new series, new voices and new formats that can really cut through – in particular with younger audiences,” explains the Beeb.

The report also says that it’s testing windowing some BBC podcasts to the BBC Sounds app for a limited period, before making them available on other platforms (like iTunes and Spotify, one would surmise) but before any full launch of such a strategy, it would have to get approval from the broadcaster’s board – because the BBC is a public-service broadcaster under careful scrutiny for any anti-competitive behaviour.

In a separate blog post, the BBC’s director of radio and education, James Purnell, made it clear that the broadcaster wants to compete with the two current big guns of the podcasting world. “Already Apple and Spotify account for over 80% of the music streaming and podcast markets in the UK,” he wrote. “Choice and plurality are good. But dominance by one or two gatekeepers would not be.”

As part of the plan to make BBC Sounds compete, the broadcaster is “in discussions with key UK stakeholders on how listeners could enjoy live linear radio and podcasts from third party providers in BBC Sounds”.

Stuart Dredge

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