BBC director of music warns radio could be killed off by streaming services

Former Assistant Editor

Radio is under threat from streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.

At least that’s the view taken by BBC director of radio and music Bob Shennanwho told an audience at the UK’s Radio Festival that streaming services have “set their sights on radio.”

The Telegraph reports that Shennan spoke of the BBC’s need to offer more than just a daily schedule of programs, and that it must improve its offering of on-demand services.

“Like so many industries, broadcasting is adapting to the impact of the internet,” Shennan said.

“Whereas in years gone by my predecessors would today be eyeballing their competition across the UK radio sector, our competition isn’t even based on this island. The new competition set is global.”

He believes too that the BBC must make it easier for its listeners to find content on the BBC website and via its app.

Shennan didn’t forecast all doom and gloom though, and still sees a strong future for BBC Radio.

“Even in an age of streaming, with the tangible consumer benefits that brings, I believe BBC radio – in fact, all UK radio – plays an even more important role in the lives or our audiences and in ensuring the well-being of popular and classical music.”


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Rob Brennen
16 May 2018 - 11:17 pm

Music isn’t where radio’s strength lies , particularly when pitted against a global catalogue of music available at the press of a button. Content, content, content that is everywhere, of high quality and unique must be the focus.

Matt Lygoe
17 May 2018 - 6:51 am

Personality, topicality, relevant real time information, even a return to locality, (as opposed to networking) is where the strength of radio lies. Music is important, but on demand streaming wins in that tight space. Live radio offers a human connection that new platforms don’t, yet.

17 May 2018 - 9:42 am

Music is the main reason I listen to radio. Sure I like an informed announcer and some local information, but primarily it’s music. Today’s FM stations are a major turn off for me – too much inane talk, lowest common denominator humour, far too many long blocks of commercials. I’m just not listening to that. I currently listen exclusively to DAB+ stations because of this. The new Triple M digital stations are great – because they play great music and aren’t cluttered with unfunny and uninformed talk and worse still, sport! The mainstream FM stations are just unlistenable.

17 May 2018 - 2:48 pm

Ummm …Has anyone heard of Smooth ? If personalities and content are where is at , then what are they at or close to number 1 with a pure music less talk format ???

18 May 2018 - 12:37 pm

I’ve noticed this in shops recently – even my hairdresser who’s always had the radio blasting has switched to Spotify music. I did a quick unscientific poll of my workmates today (who don’t work in media) and half of them stream music or listen to podcasts while driving. And 100% of the teens I know only listen to music via streaming, never the radio unless they’re in their parent’s car, so you would think that in the future streaming audiences will grow, especially since all new cars make it so easy.

21 May 2018 - 9:09 am

Harnessing DAB+ is just about the only hope left for radio.


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