BBC prepares to shut down iPlayer Radio app

The BBC’s iPlayer Radio app will be switched off within weeks, the broadcaster has announced as it focuses on “growing” BBC Sounds.

Some users of BBC Sounds have complained that it does not work as well as iPlayer Radio, but closure of the older app will begin on September 16, said James Purnell, the BBC’s director of radio and education.

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

The BBC's James Purnell
The BBC’s James Purnell (PA)

Writing in a blog, Mr Purnell suggested improvements to BBC Sounds mean 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 was “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 begin on September 16 and will “take a couple of weeks and allow listeners to move over to Sounds”.

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”.

“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,” he said.

“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.”