BBC clarifies decision to pull its podcasts from Google platforms

Earlier this week, we reported on a spat between the BBC and Google over podcasting.  BBC podcast listeners have been unable to get their fix via Google’s products, like its stand-alone podcast app or Google Home (via the Google Assistant), since March 19. At first, the British broadcaster cited concerns over access to data, but now it has revealed it’s simply uncomfortable with the degree to which third parties like Google, Apple, and Spotify have control over access to BBC content.

In pulling its podcasts from Google, the BBC encouraged its listeners to use its own BBC Sounds app pending a resolution of the dispute. However, the publicly funded corporation would probably prefer if its podcast subscribers ditched Google entirely, as its latest blog post reveals.

In the update, James Purnell, BBC director of radio and education, cited the need to “safeguard British radio for now and future generations,” and targeted streaming audio giants as the greatest threat to that security. “Global players are entering the industry like never before,” Purnell said. “Already, Apple and Spotify account for over 80 percent of the music streaming and podcast markets in the U.K.”

If you can’t trust Apple, Spotify, and Google with the future of British radio, then who can you trust? The BBC’s answer: The BBC. “With BBC Sounds, we are already offering an alternative audio destination to the global platforms. But for the last few months, we have also been talking to colleagues in British radio to see if Sounds could help them,” Purnell said.

The corporation’s sudden spearheading of a Britain-first strategy to protect the interests of its listeners and those of its fellow British broadcasters could be a successful move, especially as it appears to capitalize on half the country’s enthusiasm for Brexit-style policies. But the plan could backfire. The BBC Sounds app has not been especially popular with users. Despite the fact that Purnell claims that it has been downloaded more than 1.7 million times, and that 85 percent of Sounds users say they would recommend it to a friend, reader comments on BBC blog posts paint a very different picture.

“Mr Purnell, you are delusional!” wrote one particularly critical commenter, who then demanded to know where Purnell got his  85 percent recommendation stat. “Where did you get this dubious statistic from? The feedback on Google Play is terrible, with an average rating of 2.2 compared to iPlayer Radio’s 3.7.”

“I tried your BBC Sounds App and found it to be a horrendous user experience,” wrote one disgruntled user, “If you want access to ‘meaningful’ data regarding your shows and listeners, make your apps and services so compelling and well-thought-out that us end users wouldn’t even dream of using another platform.” Another wrote, “It’s a shame that you do this to you listeners. Every morning, I’m listening to BBC news on my Google Home, and now I can’t! You should undo this.”

Will the BBC be successful in its attempt to reclaim its podcast content and end its dependence on Apple, Google, and others? Or will it successfully negotiate new terms with these companies that give it the control it desires? We’ll update this article when we learn more.

Updated March 28, 2019: New details emerged earlier todayregarding the BBC’s decision to withdraw its content from Google. The article has been updated to reflect this news.


Google Stadia is the upcoming Netflix for games that will hurt game creators

Google Stadia promises a world where gaming is more convenient than ever, but it’s a future that will damage the way people make games.

YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium. What's changed, and should you subscribe?

Thanks to Google, YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium. We explain what exactly a YouTube Premium subscription gets you, how much it costs, and break down if it's a good choice for you.

Google Chrome will get a Reader Mode for distraction-free desktop browsing

If Google's testing of Reader Mode on the Chrome Canary desktop browser is successful, soon all Chrome users will gain access to this feature. Reader Mode strips away irrelevant content on a webpage for distraction-free browsing.

Microsoft says hackers were able to view emails

Microsoft's email platform saw a massive breach that caused confidential data to be accessed by hackers for months. It now appears the problem might have been much worse than initially thought, and worse than Microsoft admitted.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

Puro’s kids headphones don’t just sound great, they help prevent hearing damage

Puro Sound Labs' PuroQuiet headphones are a pair of noise-canceling over-ears that are designed for young listeners, allowing them to jam out to their favorite tunes, but limiting volume to avoid long-term hearing damage.
Product Review

Now that every speaker has Alexa, don't you want the best? Get the Sonos One

To compete in smart speaker space, Sonos could have just made a better-sounding Alexa speaker, but the company has a reputation to uphold, and went much further. Our Sonos One Review reveals how Sonos does Alexa better than Amazon.
Home Theater

The best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our favorites, with all the features you want.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

Amazon’s free Spotify competitor is here. Just ask Alexa

Just ask Alexa to play your favorite song. Amazon has launched a free, ad-based music streaming service to compete with Spotify's free tier on its popular Echo devices, aiming to bolster subscriptions to Amazon Music Unlimited.

Walmart deal drops the price of the 55-inch TCL 4K Roku smart TV to just $338

Was last weekend's Game of Thrones streaming experience lacking? Look no further than this 55-inch TCL TV, which features built-in Roku functionality, and can be had at Walmart for just $338.
Product Review

It sounds like a Sonos, but the Beam pulls one trick none of its siblings can

Sonos makes really good surround sound speakers for home theaters, but they’re expensive. A cheaper model with great sound would be a win. The Sonos Beam is that speaker, but were too many corners cut to make a more affordable product?

Take a gander at the best deals on 4K TVs for April 2019

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.