Five things we learned at the BBC Sounds launch in Wales

Last week, we joined a rabble of journalists, content creators, broadcasters and other audiophiles at the Wales content commissioning launch of BBC Sounds, the new home for audio from across the BBC. Available to download for free from Apple, Google and Amazon app stores, BBC Sounds brings together all of the broadcaster’s live and on demand radio, music and podcasts in a single, personalised app.

Presented by Colin Paterson, editor of BBC Radio Wales, and Steffan Powell from BBC Radio 1, the launch was a chance for BBC Wales to lay out its ambitions for the platform; but also, give us an insight into the kinds of content it’s hoping to commission from content creators.

Here’s what we learned…

1. Podcast listening is booming

The number of weekly podcast listeners has grown by more than 12% every year, since 2008. In 2018, podcasts made by BBC Wales had 1.8 million downloads – up 50% year on year.

2. BBC Sounds in Wales are actively looking for new ideas

But they are explicitly targeting 18-24 year olds. They want new talent, and are actively looking to commission new content. The advice to anyone wishing to pitch is to avoid cliches, crowds and the obvious – and instead, think personality, character, humour, and authenticity.

3. There are four main themes they’re most interested in

Namely, content that is funny, quirky or odd; dramatic storytelling; content that is all about discovering & explaining; and content that examines subcultures and pop culture.

4. Listeners will need to be impressed

Endless options for today’s podcast listener means lower levels of patience. For the BBC, podcasts with low completion rates do not make the grade, and won’t get a second series (this is also true of how Netflix commissions content). 

5. You won’t get rich making podcasts for BBC Sounds

The budget for podcasts was said to be far smaller than those usually associated with making audio, for radio.

The ‘bigger’ chunks will be reserved for big storytelling pieces, whilst the two-person style niche podcasts are likely to get the smaller budgets.

If you are interested in pitching an idea for BBC Sounds in Wales, you can find more info here.

And finally…

BBC Wales’ new true crime podcast Shreds (about the Lynette White murder here in Cardiff) sounds amazing, and will be available exclusively on BBC Sounds from February 21st.

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