BBC Radio 1 boss bullish on Apple competition saying it has more in common with vloggers

BBC Radio 1 boss Ben Cooper is not scared of Beats One, Apple's forthcoming radio station, saying they cater to two different kinds of listening behaviour and his brand has more in common with vloggers – such as Zoella – than streaming services.

“I think it’s great that Apple, this huge tech company took a moment to stop counting their $100 bills and thought ‘we should start a radio station’. Rising tides lifts all boats and all,” he joked at the Cannes Festival of Creativity today (22 June)

He said radio has unique characteristics that a streaming service lacks, and will outlive some new technologies.

Primarily, a sense of community: “Radio 1 is a national broadcaster, we tap into things that are unique about growing up in the UK that reflect culture in that society. That bonds a community. How does Apple create a sense of community in 100 territories?”

He added that the one-to-one nature of radio is more akin to what we see with vloggers such as Zoella.

“Bloggers have picked up on that real nuance of one to one. They’re staring down the barrel at you and saying that we’re in this together community. So we have very similar characteristics,” he explained.

Cooper also suggested the way people consume radio is entirely different to streaming – the former passive, the later active.

“When you were growing up listening to the radio and it was serendipity of bumping into something you hadn’t heard before but then there would be other times when you would go through your record collection. And that’s exactly what this is for me; active versus passive listening.”

Despite Cooper's seeming lack of concern on the rise streaming services, Radio 1 has lost star host Zone Lowe to Apple and Beats One – while a number of other behind the scenes execs have jumped ship.

His focus remains instead on solving radio’s measurement problem.

“In this disruptive marketplace, no one is sure what success looks like. On Radio 1 we have ten million listeners a week, on YouTube we get a million views a day. And that’s not counted into one figure. So if anyone can come up with a way to do that, call me.”

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