The BBC is reportedly oiling the launch of its new audio brand to the tune of £10m as it seeks to position Sounds as the go-to platform for younger listeners.
According to The Times, the broadcaster has already invested £3m of licence fee payers' cash to promote the app via a variety of stunts including renaming the London Eye as the ‘London Ear’ and dishing out free pairs of headphones to people passing through shopping centres and train stations.
These activities also include purchasing promotional posts on social media and recruiting social influencers to dovetail with more traditional advertisements on billboards and cinemas.
The broadcaster has lined up two possible spending tiers for the year ahead ranging from a spend of £3m through to £7.65m, the latter of which is the equivalent to 10% of the total local radio budget, excluding the cost of building the app.
Such sums haven't gone unnoticed among rivals with Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear among those tweeting with incredulity at the news:
Wow - the £10 million the @BBC will spend on promoting @BBCSounds is a bit more than we have spent on promoting our promotions- by about, er, £10 million. We're putting every spare penny into journalism and investigations https://t.co/V1jZueQx5J
— Ben de Pear (@bendepear) 26 November 2018
Justifying the expense a BBC spokesman said: “The Charter and Ofcom have challenged the BBC to do more for younger audiences and BBC Sounds is part of that drive. Because those audiences aren’t consuming the BBC as much as older audiences we have to use other means to reach them.
“This is the biggest product launch we’ve done in ten years and like any media organisation we’re using advertising to tell audiences about it because the more people who use it the better value it delivers to licence fee payers.”
This spending contrasts with painful retrenchment elsewhere as the BBC battles to balance the books by saving £80m over the coming four years.