Monday, October 03, 2016

Radio 1: Still a country for old men

The Guardian has a fairly in-depth interview with Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper this morning, with a couple of interesting headlines.

The first is that Cooper wants Radio 1 to become "the Netflix of music radio":

“I want Radio 1 to be the Netflix of music radio,” he says, trundling out the catchy soundbite to back his latest plan: taking a leaf out of the hugely successful US streaming service’s book by making programmes available on demand.
But... the programmes already are available on demand, aren't they?

Turns out these are different programmes:
He is starting out with 25 hours of on-demand “phone-first” content, such as a weekly “Top 10 most-played tracks of the week” programme, but intends to seriously ramp up the hours next year. “In this job, you’ve got to keep across what young audiences are doing. They want content on whatever device they are using, increasingly the phone, when they want it, and that is the key for us to stay relevant and stay young.”
There's a few problems with this - if people aren't listening to Radio 1, why would they give a raspberry tuppence about listening to a programme which plays the 'most played' tracks? "Hey kids, those programmes you're ignoring? Want to listen to the sort of music they're playing that isn't encouraging you to listen to them?"

More importantly, if you were looking for a Netflix for music radio, you might think that's a space that Spotify are already in.

And Radio 1 as Netflix would only work if Netflix concerned itself solely with, say, romcoms and slasher flicks. If you're looking for something akin to Netflix, you'd need something that covers a range of styles and genres. Something like, ooh, iPlayer Radio.

To be fair, though, Cooper has had some degree of success at extending Radio 1 as a brand beyond radio - a large swathe of its audience never tune in on DAB or FM. On YouTube, Radio 1 is thriving, or at least doing as well as Zoella.

Then there's the Grimshaw question:
Meanwhile, shouldn’t he be more worried about Nick Grimshaw? Earlier this year, the station’s breakfast show audience reached its lowest level in more than 13 years. Grimshaw, who took over the coveted gig from Chris Moyles, is about to become older than the station’s average listener. After four years of trying, is his use-by date looming?

“I’m not operating Logan’s Run,” quips Cooper, referring to the 1976 sci-fi film where people get systematically vaporised when they turn 30. “Grimmy was asked to do a job and it was a difficult job. Chris’s job was to build the biggest audience he could, the most successful breakfast show Radio 1 ever had. The BBC Trust asked me to get Radio 1 younger so I brought in Nick to do that. Grimmy has come in and he is the No 1 youth presenter in the UK. He is knocking it out of the ballpark when it comes to connecting with young audiences on a daily basis.”
Is he the "number one youth presenter in the UK", though? If he is, why has he settled so comfortably into the X Factor Home for The Formerly Influential?

But then, the 46 year-old Cooper isn't going to willingly suggest the route to a younger audience is through a perpetually younger team, is he?

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