Challenges Facing Traditional Media

After a well-deserved lunch break – and running comfortably late (as all good events inevitably do), we come back to a session called Challenges Facing Traditional Media. The session is chaired by NovaRising’s Rob Walk. And the speaker is Ben Chapman from the BBC.

This session is a case study on BBC Radio 1, the corporation’s cutting edge, youth orientated radio station.

First thing to note is just how visual Radio 1 is, considering it’s a radio station! They are the biggest new music station in Europe, paid for by the licence fee, no advertising, 50% youth market share. Great! But it’s a false illusion and the market changes quickly.

The audience cone has scenesters at the thin end. The music obsessives basically, with specialist programming late at night.

In the middle there’s the restless group who get into stuff deeply and influence their friends, but are changeable. The fat end of the cone is the contented masses. Radio 1 wants to push the masses into actually caring about music.

Radio has lots of external threats. Facebook, YouTube and TV among them. Radio 1 is a spectacular display of decorations on a rather broken old Christmas tree.

Radio 1 is trying to incorporate a variety of features in its pages, like Resident Advisor and like YouTube. The radio station’s website cannot be static.

Projects like Scott Cam brought in millions of users to the website, and such innovations are being used to drive traffic to the site and create interest in the station in general. This is a shiny bauble on the tree.

Getting the structure of presentation right allows the tree to be healthy and green. How useful the site is to young people is the key question, and keeping it personal and not a lonely place to be. It’s all about taking down the wall between the BBC and young people. The BBC just can’t look down and tell people what’s cool any more.

Don’t forget mobile either, as a browsing portal, as a radio player, as a way of sending messages to the station. It is the great unifier of all Radio 1 platforms.

Rob Walk then took the stage to talk briefly about synergy – brought about by project he did with the BBC to look in to user content on the main platforms. BBC Switch Sound Index….take a look!

The site compiles new charts every time a user reaches the site, under a variety of categories. You can listen to the songs and watch the YouTube videos then link to relevant and similar content. It’s a very personal media which broadens your horizons, but still listens to your needs.

How does the BBC choose its platforms and strategies? Despite the many restrictions the corporation inevitably has, they usually try to start with small investments in small things to test the waters – much like Rand was saying earlier. If there is some interest, then the investment can be increased.

The BBC is actually charged by government with driving Digital Britain. It is obliged to drive interest in digital television and keeping radio alive and the like.

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