One of the great aspects about the BBC’s iPlayer for television is that many of their series are offered in ‘stacked’ form — each episode remaining online while the series is ongoing, rather than disappearing seven days after transmission on linear television.
I’ve found it invaluable in cases where I’ve not been able to predict my viewing habits far enough in advance to remember to set my PVR. Without it, the chances of me watching a series or serial to completion diminish if I miss the odd episode, or if I miss the first one completely and need to catch up.
As someone who also revels in the delights of Radio 4’s drama and comedy output, it’s been a frustration that the same convenience isn’t available for radio.
Up to 15% of the BBC’s speech output can be stacked, which should mean ample opportunities to catch up on Classic Serials, Saturday Plays and the like.
Of course, some series are already available as podcasts - e.g., The Archers and Radio 7’s original commission, Planet B. Once downloaded, there’s no limit to how long you can keep those. Until now, though, there was no real gap between “for 7 days” and “forever” when it came to catching up with programmes.
Additional means of catching up may present themselves when Radio 7 rebrands as Radio 4 Extra — it’s possible that key programmes may end up with a catch-up rebroadcast on Radio 7. But series stacking — together with the announced plans to rework how on-demand audio and podcasts are packaged on the BBC website — should make it as easy as possible to sample some of the best radio shows without fear of missing an episode.