Radio 1 takes on video rivals MTV and YouTube with permanent channel on BBC iPlayer

Youth music station’s transition follows five years of testing the online water

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The Independent Culture

BBC Radio 1 will take on MTV and YouTube tomorrow by taking up a permanent presence as a video channel on iPlayer.

The network, founded in 1967, will begin its new incarnation with an exclusive performance by Taylor Swift and footage of the American singer-songwriter being interviewed by presenter Fearne Cotton.

Other programmes will include a weekly chart rundown, a performance of the Pharrell Williams hit “Happy” by the rock band Royal Blood, and a feature on the brother-and-sister video blogging stars Zoe “Zoella” Sugg and Joe “ThatcherJoe” Sugg, shot behind the scenes during a broadcast they made for Radio 1 last month.

Ben Cooper, the Radio 1 controller, described the network’s transition as a “historic moment”. He told The Independent: “If you love music, you love celebrity and you love being nosy you will love this space in the iPlayer because this gives you behind-the-scenes access to Radio 1 and the stars that come through its doors.”

The move into video puts Radio 1 in direct competition with the likes of MTV and offers an alternative to YouTube, which has become the most popular online site for watching music. Its position on iPlayer may also strengthen BBC3, another key youth brand, which has been earmarked to become a digital-only channel.

Mr Cooper pointed to recent research by the broadcast regulator Ofcom showing that while only one in seven young people owned a radio, one in three had a tablet device. “We have to be more focused on how the audience consume stuff and how we can give our content to them when they want it on whatever device they want it.”

The iPlayer channel is designed to capture the atmosphere within Radio 1’s studios at New Broadcasting House in London, which hosts big name stars of music and film on a daily basis.

“Radio 1 is an exciting place,” said Mr Cooper. “It’s got an energy to it and you see that physically manifested with the crowds outside the door and the paparazzi that gather to get an exclusive photo of a star arriving.”

One of the iPlayer shows, ICYMI [In Case You Missed It], will be a 15-minute summary of the network’s previous week, presented by Chris Stark. Mr Cooper said Radio 1 would be filming documentaries that previously would have been recorded and broadcast only in audio.

The BBC’s youth news service Newsbeat will also be encouraged to film its stories so that they can be showcased on the Radio 1’s iPlayer slot.

Radio 1’s presence on iPlayer follows a five-year “listen, watch, share” strategy which encouraged the network’s audience to think of the network as more than merely a radio brand and enhance its presence on social media. The station has been especially active on YouTube where its channel has amassed 1.6 million subscribers, more than any other radio network.