BBC launches Sounds app for TV

More than 80,000 hours of audio and radio content will be available on connected TV sets

The BBC is launching its Sounds app on television sets after learning that nearly 50m hours of radio listening a week is now performed through TVs.

More than 80,000 hours of music, radio and podcasts will be available on the BBC Sounds TV app, which is being rolled out on YouView and Virgin devices from Tuesday.

Sounds, which gives listeners access to the BBC’s live radio stations and archive shows, already has 3m weekly users.

The Sounds TV app allows signed-in listeners to pause a True Crime podcast they are playing on one mobile device, and restart it through their television. It will suggest programme recommendations based on previous listener choices.

Figures show that almost 10 per cent of digital radio listening is done via the TV, with people leaving their favourite shows on in the background whilst they perform other tasks.

Sometimes listeners leave a station running for hours or fall asleep to the more soothing late night broadcasts on Radio 3.

The BBC said that its Sounds TV app will have a screen saver which protects listeners’ TVs from damaging “screen burn”.

Episodes of classic shows including Just A Minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue will be added to Sounds, to help listeners through self-isolation, along with five new Radio 4 series examining the Covid-19 crisis.

Lloyd Shepherd, head of product at BBC Sounds, said: A lot of radio listening is actually done through the TV whilst people do other things. Now we can meet the demand for people to search and find programmes on demand through their TVs. With people having more downtime, you can sample a podcast or swop a hip-hop mix from one device to another.

Digital listening – including through smart speakers in the home like Amazon’s Alexa – grew by 43m hours or 8 per cent in the past year while listening via online and apps grew by 28.5m hours (30 per cent).

The Sounds TV app will be available on some Samsung TVs later this week and on more connected TVs and devices in the coming weeks and months.

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