BBC Reaches 1M Downloads Of Its iPlayer Radio iOS App; Android Coming In 2013

Some music to the BBC’s ears: the UK broadcasting giant today said that it has passed the 1-million-download mark for its iOS iPlayer Radio applaunched two months ago as part of the corporation’s big push into digital to drive more revenues and hold on to its audience as they scatter for the hills of apps, Spotify, Netflix and other OTT services.

It’s a significant milestone for the BBC, and gives it some of the steam that it needs to take the strategy to the next level.

“We’re looking forward to bringing even more exciting features over the coming months, and to launching the app on other mobile platforms in 2013,” said Andrew Scott, head of radio for BBC Future Media in a statement.

That will include an Android launch sometime in 2013, and perhaps an app specifically for iPad tablets — the current iOS app works on both but is not optimized for the bigger screen. It could also see the BBC also consider how it might roll out its iPlayer Radio app to other international markets, as it has done with its iPlayer video service.

It might also see the BBC using the popularity to consider further services on iPlayer Radio. Some of the efforts that have been rumored — but not confirmed — include a deal with Spotify, or a Spotify competitor like Deezer for on-demand music streaming or downloading services. That effort is reportedly called Playlister but the BBC has declined to comment on whether this is actually happening.

Up to now, the main enhancements have been to improve what’s already out there. That’s included optimizing for iPhone 5, improving the search algorithms, and letting people favorite series’ rather than single programs.

The BBC also revealed some stats on how its iPlayer Radio web portal has been doing: it has 6 million unique weekly browsers in the UK, and has grown by 30% since October 2011, with nearly one-third of traffic coming from mobile and tablet devices.

So far, it looks like usage on iPlayer Radio is mirroring popular content on the BBC’s broadcast service. The most popular live show is the Radio 1 Breakfast Show. For on-demand programs the current affairs/comedy show “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” is the most requested. Comedy overall is the most popular category — which, incidentally, leaves the door open for the BBC to explore other ways of delivering music. The BBC also says that more people listen to on-demand content in the evening.