11/05/13: Triton Webcast Metrics - September listening flat

Brad Hill
November 5, 2013 - 11:50am

Triton Digital released its Webcast Metrics Top 20 Ranker for September yesterday, revealing that Internet listening among Triton's top-20 clients was sequentially flat from August. (iTunes Radio, which began operating during September, has not been announced as a Triton client.) Looking at Average Active Sessions (AAS) as the guiding metric, we see a statistical dead heat in cumulative listening to the top-20 list.

Within the ranking, the best nominal month-over-month success belonged to market leader Pandora, which gained nearly 24,000 average active sessions. In percentage terms the monthly top-gainer wasESPN Radio, which grew active sessions 110 percent. The largest August-to-September percentage drop-off is attributed to New York Public Radio (September tracked at 84% of August).

The long-term historical trend of the top five leaders (see chart below) shows Pandora’s dramatic climb over the past four years. That trendline also illustrates summertime dips in listening that occurred in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Year-over-year, we see 19% growth in cumulative listening, gauged by Average Active Sessions. Both NPR (133%) and Univision (104%) more than doubled listening from September 2012. Pandora showed an 18-percent improvement from September 2012, by adding 232,000 sessions. Most of the other top-20 participants experienced year-over-year gains, but Cox and New York Public Radio each dropped in listening by single percentage points.

The following chart illustrates cumulative year-over-year listening growth, with the top five leaders called out.

Here is the Top 20 domestic list from Triton Digital, organized by Average Active Sessions, Domestic streams from 6:00am to midnight.

Domestic market leader Pandora does not appear in the international All Streams Ranker. At the top of that cohort is Clear Channel, which dropped six percent month-over-month, with AAS reducing by 14,630 sessions:

Brad Hill
November 5, 2013 - 11:50am

Pandora released its internal audience metrics for October, in a Morgan Stanley conference late today in San Francisco. Pandora CFO Michael Herring presented the October results. The October report carries special significance inasmuch as it represents the first full month of iTunes Radio operating in competition with Pandora.

Pandora’s monthly metrics report contains three key indicators:

  • Share of total U.S. radio listening
  • Number of hours of music consumed
  • Number of active users

In October, Pandora’s reported listening share in the U.S. rose to 8.06 percent from a September share of 7.77 percent.

There was also month-over-month growth in consumed hours, from 1.36-billion hours in September top 1.47-billion in October.

The much-discussed “active users” measure dropped in October from the previous month, settling at 70.9-million users, a 2.5% drop from September’s 72.7-million figure. The share of U.S. radio listening measurement is controversial in the radio industry, and has been disputed by industry executives. When RAIN asked Pandora about the methodology of the share-of-listening metric, we received this reply:

"Pandora arrives at this calculation using data from Triton Digital, Arbitron and the U.S. Census. The estimated total hours include satellite radio. There is no one group that measures total radio metrics. We welcome all third-party research from a variety of established partners, including Triton Digital, Edison Research, The Media Audit, comScore and Nielsen. Ultimately, we would like to see all radio measured side-by-side."

Brad Hill
November 5, 2013 - 11:50am

This is a guest column by Jennifer Lane, first published at Audio4cast.

Speaking of seismic shifts, YouTube held it’s own music awards on Sunday, and if buzz factor is any measure of success (it is, of course), then it was a big one. Lots of people were talking about the awards, Produced by Spike Jonze, the awards were designed to be edgy, spontaneous, even strange – and definitely the opposite of the highly staged awards shows that we see on television.

By all accounts, it was a celebration of “the democratizing nature of YouTube”, with artists like Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis who became famous as a result of their hit song video on YouTube that they made for $5000 bucks with some friends. Even big record label made artist Taylor Swift got an award for her song “I knew your were trouble”, which incited more fan videos than any other.

Disruption folks, that’s the story that is being told live on YouTube, as evidenced by these awards. It’s not actually news, since YouTube’s been streaming more songs than any other platform in the land for a long time. YouTube is the place where the hip and trendy get their new music. Have you heard the song “What Does the Fox Say?” It’s a new phenom from YouTube that my daughter and her roommate played for me when we visited on parents’ weekend a few weeks ago. It’s a Norwegian viral video that’s got almost a billion views on YouTube since early September. Meanwhile, Katy Perry’s new album sold less than 300,000 copies in its first week. Not an apples to apples comparison, but certainly one that lends perspective.

If you haven’t watched these awards, and this YouTube culture thing is news to you, I highly recommend that you take a look. It’s a new world order, driven by platforms that put consumers in the drivers seat.

Meanwhile, according to Tom Taylor’s newsletter this morning, YouTube spent so much money on radio stations last week promoting its awards show that it was a top 20 advertiser….

Brad Hill
November 5, 2013 - 11:50am

Pandora released disclosed its audience metrics for October last night (see RAIN coverage here). The much-watched measurement of “active listeners” slipped 2.5% from September, from 72.7-million to 70.9-million. That metric is significant for the first full month in which Pandora and iTunes Radio operated concurrently. We wanted to circle back with Michael Graham of Cannacord Genuity, who authored a study of the near-term threat that iTunes Radio posed to Pandora. (See our original interview here.) Graham predicted that Pandora risked losing one percent of its listeners to iTunes Radio.

This morning we asked Graham how the just-released October numbers match up with the research prediction. His response: 

We were a little surprised by how many active listeners we lost, but were also surprised by how strong the listening hours were. The drop-off in listeners is more than we estimated might happen. The part we didn’t predict is this: [Pandora] lost a large number of low-engagement iOS users who, we believe, were added more recently, then decided to try iTunes Radio. We believe this because the average number of hours per active listener expanded sharply, from 18.8 during September to 20.5 during October. Part of that can be explained by the listener cap on mobile coming off. But the bigger part is likely that the listeners who went over to iTunes Radio were low-hours listeners. We believe that the overall number of listening hours is in good shape."

A research note from Cannacord Genuity in response to Pandora’s metrics also mentions non-iOS Pandora use: “We are somewhat surprised at the 1.8 million sequential decline in active listeners. That said, we believe growth from Android listeners was strong, and we believe the company may be seeing some stabilization on the iOS side already.”

(Graham is an analyst for the investment firm Cannacord Genuity, and he discloses that the company is bullish on Pandora. Research on this topic supports the company’s Buy recommendation.)

Brad Hill
November 5, 2013 - 11:50am

We’re going small today. Anyone for whom Tuesday is a head-down, intense day at work will appreciate the steady beats and level dynamic range of Minimal Mix programming. If they like electronica, that is. This is music which provides a pulse, sonic wallpaper that can propel a productive day. The tempo might be too slow for the Red Bull set -- this is marathon music, not sprinting music.

Most of the cuts heard on this Polish station are original (although submissions are encouraged -- deep techno artists take note), and the site makes them available for download. The station creators also distribute their stuff on SoundCloud.

Streaming is a breeze on Minimal Mix’s elegant website, which, by the way, is a refreshing change from many 1998-era presentations of indie pureplay stations. The play button just works, on every platform we tried. (We did not find a pop-out option, though, which we prefer.)