6 Content Marketing Lessons From BBC Radio 1

Last weekend, Radio 1 held their now annual free music event, ‘One Big Weekend’. Held in Derry, Londonderry the event attached over 40,000 people and was held over three days, headlined by well known acts such as Biffy Clyro, Calvin Harris and Rita Ora. With 10.3 million daily listeners, Radio 1 is the UK’s third most listened to radio station  (Radio 2 is no 1 and Radio 4 no 2) and has a target age demographic of 15-29, although in 2008 the average listener was 33 years old. Recently, the BBC Trust ordered Radio 1 to appeal to more under 30’s which, give their target demographic of 15-29,  is a kind of no-brainer…

So how does this relate to great content. Well new music was the reason people used to relate to Radio 1, whereas now – new content is the new music.

Days Gone By…

Station controller Ben Cooper has realised that the ‘kids’ don’t listen to radios as much as they used to. When I was a teenybopper, much of our teen culture was influenced by music and its manifestation though popular media outlets.  So the girls would giggle at heart throb pictures of Backstreet Boys or 911 in Smash Hits, I would record Top of the Pops on VHS and then spend the majority of the following week replaying my grainy version of Hanson, I mean Aqua, I mean S Club I mean er, some cool band. Or I would be glued to the Top 40 chart show on a Sunday evening, finger hovering over the ‘record’ button of my radio cassette player, in anticipation of Babylon Zoo ‘Spaceman’ coming on.

If I wanted music, I had to ride my bike down to Woolies and buy whichever tape or later, CD, I wanted. And I had to save my money from washing dishes at the greasy spoon to do this. I didn’t have an iPhone with the ability to instantly download a Beyonce song for 79p. I couldn’t load up my browser and enjoy streaming a new band on Soundcloud or Bandcamp for free, sharing the link with friends if I thought it was any good. If you’d have mentioned Spotify I would have checked my face the mirror looking for evidence of pimples. The only music I listened to on a computer was the theme tune to Sonic or Alex Kid in Miracle World (good tunes). There was no ubiquitous, omnipresent supply of music at my beck and call. So as I say, if wanted to listen to a song I liked I had to jump on my bike and go buy it. Or wait until it played on the radio…

Radio 1 was where I heard songs for the first time.  It was where I felt a part of a community of other people that were also hearing songs for the first time. It was a hub of newness and excitement. My Walkman knew of no other FM frequency than 98.2. Walking to the bus, hidden in one ear during geography, on the bus back, in the kitchen when I returned home, on in the car when I got delivered to a friends house.

Future of Radio For Teens

Why Radio 1?

So if Soundcloud, Hype Machine, Bandcamp and Spotify, are the new places to listen to and discover music why listen to Radio 1? If Pitchfork and other blogs are going set the scene and tell me who I should be listening to, why listen to Radio 1? If i’m 15, then the internet and my phone are my connections to the world of new. Radio 1 may be on as background noise (probably because out-of-demographic dad put it on) but it’s the link to a band that my friend just reblogged on Tumblr that i’m concentrating on.

THIS is why Radio 1 is looking to content to place it back in the concentration zone of young people. One Big Weekend is an explosion of content. A plethora. A…er well a lot.

Localised Content

Each year the event is held in a different location within the UK. Last year it was Hackney in line with the London Olympics and this year it was in Derry, Londonderry. This helps Radio 1 to feel relevant to the youngsters in each region by featuring their city and the places they know in the multitude of photo and video content generated.

Exclusive Content

This is Radio 1’s event, put on by them for their listeners. With hundreds of bands and artists playing this gives Radio 1 opportunity to create a nice pile of content that they own and will be exclusively played on the station and via the Radio 1 website. I might be able to download my favourite Connor Maynard song from iTunes these days, but now Radio 1 has a 4 minute video online of Connor doing a mashup of a song with Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. OMG I love Connor Maynard! So I now love Radio 1 a little bit more as they’re created this special moment for me and captured it on video!

Radio 1's One Big Weekend

Brand Partnerships / Affiliates

Ok so it doesn’t sound so cool when you call a musician a brand but this is in effect a scaled up version of a brand partnership. Affiliate marketing if you will. Radio 1 pay big bucks to Biffy Clyro, Vampire Weekend, Little Mix etc to have them play. Each of these bands then tells their huge fan bases how they’re so excited to be playing Radio 1’s Big Weekend… then shares links to the Radio 1 website of their performances. That’s a lot of traffic referrals. Little Mix alone have 1.5 million Facebook fans and over 3 million Twitter followers.

Content to Feed Multiple Platforms

The BBC is a many armed, content hungry monster. It has possibly the largest output and subsequest consumption of content in the world via TV, Radio and online. One Big Weekend fed all three of these platforms with all performances being recorded and shared on BBC Three, red button, the Radio 1 website, smartphones and of course various BBC Radio 1 shows.

Interactive / Social

Much of the content can be shared via social channels at the click of a button. More than that though, everything created is implicitly share-worthy,  given that the content features some of the best loved current music stars in the UK! The content has been shared via their Twitter, Facebook , Tumblr, Google+ and YouTube.

r1obw Google


The drip feeding of content began weeks before the event itself with announcements about the artists who would be performing, live shows from previous ‘Big Weekend’ locations, interviews with performers and ticket giveaways/competitions. After the event there were more interviews with artists, calls with listeners who attended and it seemed like every other song played this week was a live performance from the event.

More of The Same…

So I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more of these content generating events from brands. Virgin do it with V Festival and then there’s the iTunes festival, the O2 Wireless Festival and probably many more besides.

Next up for the BBC, their ‘First truly digital Glastonbury coverage’… can’t wait.


E4 Hijacks BBCThree, Channel 5, ITV2 and Sky Facebook Pages!

Imagine you’re waiting on hold for ITV customer services to pickup. Suddenly someone starts talking to to you but they’re not from ITV, they’re from E4! Now imagine the customer service channel is Facebook and that’s exactly what’s happened….

E4 have been posting on the Facebook walls of ITV2, Sky and Channel 5 and BBC3, answering the other broadcaster’s fan’s questions and generally muscling in on territory that, technically isn’t really theirs!

It seems there’s no sabotage or malicious intent, more doing it because they can and frankly, why not?! As E4 themselves say in a comment on BBC3’s page “we’re just being helpful. It’s really that simple” .

ITV3 somewhat nervously  replied to E4’s comments with “Hi E4, great to see you are a fan of Lee Nelson’s. Enjoy the show tonight and keep watching BBC Three!”


I notice they didn’t do it to BBC or ITV’s main channels…however top mark’s E4 PR dept!

BBC Innovating Social Telly

bbc logo

I’ve long been a fan of how the BBC take the internet seriously. They have great team in place and this culminates in their brilliant BBC Internet blog. Who is this blog written for? I don’t know. It seems to be random pieces of information surrounding BBC Online, recent projects and challenges. I love it.

Then there is also the upcoming Digital Revolution series commissioned by the BBC for 2010. This will be a User Generated Content (UGC) TV series and I look forward to it hitting our screens.

Strictly Social

A fab recent example of their innovative digital  approach is the Strictly Social project. Forget ‘red button’ interactive TV, this is truly interactive – and social.

Designed for use both during the show and throughout the week, Strictly Social allows viewers to ‘play along at home’. The most notable thing about this is…I actually do play along at home. The number of time I find myself shouting out ‘7’ just before the judge does. So, rather than being abstract, this actually matches a real life demand.

What is it?

A Flash application that allows viewers to play along at home. It consists of five main elements:

1) The Video Screen – This displays the actual show.
2) Emotional Reaction Visualisation
– Allows viewers to react to the show using ‘boos’, ‘wows’ and ‘gasps’.
3) Guess The Judge’s Score – Does what it says on the tin. allows viewers to pre-empt the judge’s verdict on dances. Users are then awarded points depending on how accurate their predictions were. This is a good loyalty feature.
4) Have Your Say – Comment or view other user’s comments.
5) Answer This – Quiz with random in-show questions.

Large Audience

Of course, with it being the BBC there will be no problems around seeding or advertising the service. The BBC website broke its own record for unique visitors when 300,000 people visited on the day the Strictly dancers were revealed. These are big numbers, at the level most commercial brands only dream of attracting. As the BBC admit themselves;

“The TV show traditionally has an older, female audience who don’t tend to come online, whilst the site attracts the younger web savvier audience.”

They hope that this application will attract the older viewers to the website and, I presume, the younger online users to watch the TV show. The team have made the conscious decision not to focus on the Strictly Twitter feed, as a large part of their audience don’t regularly use Twitter.

So log on on Saturday night and enjoy!

BBC iPlayer Lets You Share Your Favourite TV Moments

Ever had that conversation with someone about your previous night’s TV viewing? You both start attempting to describe your favourite sketch from Little Britain or a particular item from the 6 o’Clock News.

Well…Now if I have this conversation online, or via electronic means, I can share the exact scene with my friends (if the programme/film in question was shown on BBC1 or BBC2).

The BBC have just introduced a brilliant new feature to their ever popular iPlayer which allows users to link to an exact point in the programme. They have even developed their own URL shortening service to facilitate sharing on microblogging platforms such as Twitter. Here’s the example the BBC use:

“For example, I loved Steve Hughes in Michael McIntyre’s brilliant Comedy Roadshow – see him here: http://bbc.co.uk/i/lbtbg/?t=16m51s

When they allow users to do this with radio shows then we may really see a paradigm shift in the use of radio. A Spotify-like service could emerge from the BBC linking or live streaming exact snippets of live material from BBC R1’s Live Lounge or Glastonbury. Exciting stuff.

Hopefully the others (ITV, Five, C4, Sky) will catch on quick and enable similar functionality. Unfortunately their advertisers may not like the idea of viewers circumnavigating the commercial breaks.

Read further on the BBC Internet Blog

BBC Music Beta

Open source seems to be the way forward at the moment for large UK organisations. February saw the launch of Guardian Open Platform which allows 3rd parties to utilise their API to create useful applications.

The BBC has now launched their music beta called….BBC Music. The new site aims to be an aggregator of data from both internal sources (BBC) and external sources (Musicbrainz, Wikipedia). The aim? Well their intention appear to be entirely altruistic. To create a hub for music whereby info from across the wide spectrum of BBC sites/microsites is pulled together to create a single, consolidated platform for music. They are also “now publishing several hundred thousand pages automatically, which harvest third-party content from Wikipedia and MusicBrainz” (BBC Internet Blog)

What does this mean for us users?

Well essentially its makes it a whole lot easier to browse artists and to then find out more once you have reached your artist’s page.

Say I like the Arctic Monkeys. I go to BBC Music and use their nifty Flash scroll bar to find them. If they don’t appear then I can just choose to view all artists and locate them alphabetically.

Once I have found my chosen artist I am then presented with a whole host of info about them, both from within the BBC and from external sources:

– Latest news stories (from the BBC)
– Biography (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
– BBC Reviews (A mashup of all reviews from throughout the BBC on this artist)
– Now On The BBC (directs you to where they are currently appearing on BBC Online)
– Played by (Which DJ’s have played that artists music)
– Played on (Which BBC channels have played music by that artist)
– Members (Who’s in the band)
– Links (to: Official Homepage; Fansite; Wikipedia; IMDb; Myspace & MusicBrainz)

Thats a lot of information and great for users of BBC online to be able to find out so much, about so many artists. They are constantly adding new material and acknowledge that the site is very much still in the beta phase.

The one concernI had was that all of this information could be obtain by purely going to an artist’s Myspace? so what was the point? they responded by saying “you’re absolutely right. We know that our users rightly expect an artist page to contain audio – it’s what happens everywhere else on the web, isn’t it? And we’re on the case – there are technology and rights issues to consider here, but we think there’s a way round it. Watch this space.

So could BBC soon be a contender for Myspace? With the API to such a large amount of info being opened up…watch this space!

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Beebcamp 2 – The BBC’s version of BarCamp

Wednesday the 18th February saw the BBC host it’s now annual ‘BeebCamp. Yes this is a play on the word BarCamp and yes – they do have the same theme.

BeebCamp is designed as a collective, spontaneous bashing together of ideas, with no set structure to the day.” This was a get together of largely BBC employees but also included some external bloggers of note to add to the mix.

I’m slightly confused. BarCamp (and all other get togethers with the ‘camp’ suffix) is a user generated ‘unconference‘ – For the people by the people. Surely a camp organised by a corporation afor a corporation will never truely have an unbiased agenda? Therefore maybe they shouldn’t have jumped on the Camp bandwagon. Kinda like if Lloyds were to call their annual conference ‘Lloyds Fest’…It’s just a bit…

Anyway thats only a mild query as any get together of digital minds is always an exiting thing. Items discussed included pre pay TV, uses of Twitter, a user generated content presentation and ‘open source documentaries’.

Each discussion was limited to 20mins (10 mins each) although there were some who would like to see 30 mins sessions next time as there’s just too much to talk about!

This is one blogger who would love an invite to BeebCamp 3…hint hint ; )

Read more here:

Photo’s on Flickr
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