NEWS9 December 2020

In-house team of the year: BBC Audiences – Sounds

Awards Data analytics Media News UK

At the 2020 MRS Awards, BBC Audiences – Sounds took the Research Live award for in-house team of the year.

BBC Broadcasting House

In November 2018, the BBC launched Sounds, aided by BBC Audiences working as a cross-disciplinary ‘virtual’ team comprising research, planning, analytics and data science. 

Sounds was conceived after the organisation’s research team described a platform identifying what modern listeners wanted. Planning then developed a proposition for the look, feel and name of the product, as well as marketing communications. 

Drawing on research and market insight, the Audiences team created Sounds’ first commissioning framework and briefs that led to the first digital-only podcasts and mixes. 

The Audiences team set up the ‘Sounds Audiences Roadmap' to prioritise incoming questions through a six-monthly programme of work, mostly addressed by agile teams comprising two or more disciplines. 

Audiences checks on progress in a new fortnightly meeting, where the analytics and data science teams shared work with research/planning, meaning that analytics and data science are central to decision-making for the Sounds platform – helping to understand the audience and driving where they spend time, for example, by informing the platform’s recommendations engine.

Working as a broader team across disciplines has allowed the Audiences team to impact a wider range of work across teams including product, editorial, marketing and commissioning, and increases its ability to answer questions within the organisation. It has also developed newsletters to share insight more widely, including a ‘Digital Digest’.

Within 18 months, Sounds received more young users than iPlayer Radio and the first quarter of 2020 showed a record 3.5 million users.

Alison Winter, head of audiences, radio and education, BBC, said: "I’m delighted that the BBC Sounds Audiences team has won this prestigious award, not least as we didn’t even exist as one team two years ago. The highly influential body of work we’ve delivered since before BBC Sounds launched came about through pioneering new ways of working. These brought together research and planning with analytics and data science in a collaboration that is held up as an exemplar of how modern multi-disciplinary insight teams should be working at the BBC.

"From BBC Sounds’ point of view, it offered a much more holistic response to important questions around our audience’s behaviour and for the team its created an ongoing culture of partnership and shared learning."

The judges said: "Setting clear constraints on its scope within a large and complex organisation made its outcomes that much more powerful and its impact was clearly articulated."

The full list of MRS Awards winners can be found here.