BBC annual plan: More local creative, more from BBC Sounds

The BBC’s annual plan for 2019-2020 demonstrates a continued focus on local culture and creativity while embracing the ongoing digital shifts in the entertainment world. The UK broadcaster cited the popularity of audio and video streaming platforms, including Apple’s very recent announcements about television, and laid out how it plans to stay relevant in the competitive market for eyes and ears.

“To deliver these aims we will focus on four core priorities for 2019/20: creativity; growing BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds; trust and impartiality in news; and making the BBC the best place to work,” the plan stated.

The report highlighted the need for creative content across all of its channels. “We will continue to invest significant resources – through development funding, commissioning effort and by working with industry partners – to help nurture creative businesses and support the UK creative industries as a whole,” it said. The plan did not explicitly mention podcasting here, although the UK government has embarked on its own effort to expand the domestic industry through the Audio Content Fund.

The BBC Sounds app, which launched in October, will continue to be an important factor for the broadcaster. Despite only being available in the UK and with a limited set of features, the app was downloaded about 1.8 million times in its first few months and nets an average of more than 1 million listeners a week, according to the BBC. The app sparked debate earlier this year with an effort to try exclusive windowing of a BBC podcast.

“A major part of our focus is on new formats and podcasts that will bring us new users. We want to accelerate the development of new series, new voices and new formats that can really cut through – in particular with younger audiences,” it said. The programming will include companion podcasts for the BBC’s television shows, as well as more music.

Anna Washenko