Designing the user experience for Bauer Media Audio’s pioneering subscription radio service
Help Bauer Media Audio to launch a subscription service offering listeners an ad-free version of their favourite radio stations, for a monthly fee.
Bauer Media Audio is one of the world’s largest privately owned media businesses. Its UK division is the number one digital commercial audio broadcaster in the country, reaching more than 20 million listeners per week across its 120 stations.
As part of Bauer Media Audio’s digital strategy and digital transformation the business was developing a premium, subscription-based radio offering, aimed at its most dedicated listeners. The service would give subscribers a completely ad-free version of their favourite radio stations, as well as other benefits. The service would be breaking new ground in the sector.
Bauer Media Audio brought in Softwire for a six-week period to design the user experience (UX). Our high-level aims were to:
- Convey the benefits of a premium subscription to listeners, in a compelling way
- Help shape how the premium service would be incorporated into the radio stations’ existing mobile apps. This included ensuring premium features were clearly identifiable, while maintaining a high-quality user experience for everyone
- Produce a full set of high-fidelity wireframes and visual designs for Bauer Media Audio’s development team to work from
In just six weeks, we produced design concepts to validate the premium proposition and experience with listeners. We then refined these into high-fidelity interaction and visual designs.
We ran a series of week-long design sprints. Each sprint saw us work closely with Bauer Media Audio’s product development team to define a hypothesis to test, create and iterate designs, and remotely validate these with target users. We recruited the testers ourselves, based on audience demographics provided by Bauer Media Audio.
A key research objective was to establish which premium features the target users found the most compelling. This enabled us to identify and design when and how to convey the benefits, to maximise the likelihood of people signing up for a free trial.
As we progressed, we created a visual identity for the premium service, to evoke a feel of exclusivity. We handed these polished visuals, along with high-fidelity interaction designs, over to Bauer Media Audio. As part of the final demonstration, we also produced a video walkthrough for Bauer Media Audio’s management team. This was to showcase what the final experience would look like, build excitement about the premium service and help maintain buy-in.
The premium service has been a hit with listeners – more than 80% of those who take up a free trial continue to become paying subscribers, with average listening times more than double that of non-members.
Bauer Media Audio built the premium service using the designs we created. This launched across Scala Radio, Jazz FM, Planet Rock and Kerrang! Radio in May 2021. Tobias Nielsen, the director responsible for the service at Bauer Media Audio, takes up the story: “We offer listeners a free trial of the premium service. More than 80% of those who take up the trial continue as paying subscribers, with a very low churn rate. We’re also seeing people with a premium subscription spending more than twice as long listening to our stations, compared to those without a subscription.
“This shows we’ve created a product that resonates with our target audiences, and that they’re highly satisfied with the added value they get. Following the launch in UK we have launched RadioPlay Premium in Denmark which includes a Premium subscription across our full portfolio of stations. The vision now is to continue to enhance the product, and ultimately launch across our full portfolio of radio stations.”
The premium service also caught the attention of Ofcom’s researchers, who highlighted it in the Media Nations 2021 report as a key example of a media business using technology in innovative ways to create new revenue streams.
Nielsen concludes by reflecting on Softwire: “I really enjoyed working with Softwire. They’ve got a very skilled team, and we quickly established great chemistry with them. When a need for design work comes up in the future, we’ll definitely be considering Softwire again.”
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