Global Radio launches new online media player

The UK's biggest commercial radio company, Global Radio, launched a new version of their famous online radio player today, which I built over the past few weeks using Microsoft's web platform. Powered by the newest and most exciting new web technologies currently available, it's an ASP.NET MVC web application with an Entity Framework data access layer.

Visual radio - welcome to the future

Global's new online player delivers a next-generation radio experience, with visual radio technology. As well as the audio data which you can hear, the stream contains metadata that can be used to do clever stuff based on exactly what you're listening to -- features as advanced as the web can currently support. The possibilities are very exciting... In version 1.0 of this new player you'll see, for instance, images representing the programme or music you're listening to. So, while you're listening to the traffic/travel news you could see pictures from the traffic cameras, and weather charts during the weather forecast, etc. Often there's a "more" button which you can click on if you want to interact. This is a different concept to TV, which obviously delivers video alongside audio; it's a whole new way of consuming radio services.

From today, the new web-based player will be available for all radio stations under the Heart brand, and in due course it will be rolled-out across all of Global Radio's brands - - from national stations like Classic FM (classical music) to regional stations like Capital Radio (hit music) and LBC (pure talk). It's a bold step toward the UK Radio Player project, announced last year, which is eagerly awaited by music lovers and radio listeners.

I deployed the new player a few days ago on a totally new infrastructure, comprising IIS web servers, SQL Server databases, and a streaming platform optimised for the delivery of high quality media (live and on-demand audio and video) with minimal bandwidth. It all went public today on the internet. You lucky people in the UK!

Try it now!

Hot tip: go to any of the Heart radio station websites from today, e.g. Heart London (106.2 FM), and click on the big shiny "Listen Live" button at the top of the page to launch the new online player for that radio station. Heart London has to be my favourite. Whether you're at home or at work, sit back and relax, or just keep doing your job, and enjoy the entertainment provided especially for your enjoyment.

Of course, there's also some cool exclusive on-demand media content available on the websites, e.g. Avatar Premier (video/vodcast), and Emma Bunton meets Mariah Carey (audio/podcast). (I also develop the internal management systems for the media content, and trust me there's a constant flow of amazing new stuff.)

A new player for a new website

The release of the new Global Radio player for the web coincides with today's high-profile launch of several new websites for Heart, the UK's largest radio brand, with a very sexy new design. The new-look website will allow the company to engage, better than ever before, with a vibrant community of listeners and users online -- by delivering localised, useful, interesting and relevant content and features across the entire Heart network. How does it all work? It's an elegantly solution. A single brand new web app, developed in-house, provides a separate website for each of the Heart regional radio stations. This is the state-of-the-art in CMS-driven websites.

User-specific functionality on the new websites, including login/registration and CRM, is performed by a new system too -- a pretty serious enterprise-level bespoke web service, built upon the WCF framework, providing an internal API for a wide range of functionality. I worked on the web service too; it was lovingly crafted by a small, elite in-house team which I'm proud to be a part of.

Watch this space...

It's an exciting time for online industry sectors, particularly media. Progress in key technologies facilitate tremendous opportunities for improving the user experience, and perhaps even to do things that have never been done before... Watch this space...


01 February 2010

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Tim Acheson (01 Feb 10, 17:50)

Further info

Social media

  • Tweet: "Cool to hear a nice ASP.NET MVC success story in UK ... Global Radio running on ASP.NET MVC & EF"
    (Scott Guthrie, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's Developer Platform)
  • Tweet: "Global Radio running ASP.NET MVC and EF"
    (Mike Taulty, Microsoft's Developer & Platform Group in the UK)
  • Tweet: "nice new player - simple and clean. congrats on the launch!"
    (Randy Silver, Digital Content Consultant at HSBC)

Hey Tim,

This is a great product, and the site is looking fantastic. I tried the player and was very impressed how quickly it started to play and how good the quality was.

The player did seem very big with little content in, and i cant help feeling it is a missed oportunity to either have more content in, or will we see new social media features to encourage users to interact with the player and each other more?

Tim Acheson (01 Feb 10, 18:16)

Thanks! Dude, I tell you solemnly, this technology could deliver any amount content and features super-fast. ;)

Ross Lawley (01 Feb 10, 19:10)

Wow nice player - I like the new site as well, I heard that was written with open source technology and the most awesome CMS ;)

Tim Acheson (01 Feb 10, 20:09)

Absolutely, Ross! ;) Indeed, I tagged it accordingly. As I noted in the blog post above:-

"A single brand new web app, developed in-house, provides a separate website for each of the Heart regional radio stations. This is the state-of-the-art in CMS-driven websites."

(Of course, the source of ASP.NET MVC is "open" too, which can be rather handy while we wait patiently for version 2.0...)

Jhonny Lopez (02 Feb 10, 19:30)

Uf! my first comment in a real-life made in MVC application! Congrats!

Tim Acheson (03 Feb 10, 11:21)

Yes, this website and blog runs on ASP.NET MVC, I built it myself. Welcome to the world of ASP.NET MVC! How was it for you?! ;) Posting that comment should have been as fast as lightening.

Tim Acheson (20 Oct 10, 17:55)

Media buzz around the press-release and first public demo of the UK RadioPlayer web app:


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