RAIN 2/2: Nearly two years later, mobile data caps likely not impeding mobile web radio growth

Michael Schmitt
February 2, 2012 - 11:00am

Mobile web radioNearly two years ago, AT&T and other U.S. mobile providers began implementing monthly data limits. Representatives from mobile companies pointed to web radio listening as one of the culprits of high data usage (more here) and observers worried such caps would impede the growth of mobile Internet radio.

Since then though, the growth of mobile web radio has "pretty much quashed the concerns from two years ago," writes respected industry journalist Sean Ross.

Likewise, Pandora CFO Steve Cakebread recently said "the impact of data caps for Pandora listeners is almost non-existent." More than half of Pandora's listening now happens on a mobile device (RAIN coverage here). Other web radio services have an even higher percentage of mobile listeners.

However, Ross did find that those in the industry who tune in to radio for a living can run up against carrier's data limits. He recently received a notice from AT&T that he was in the top 5% of data users. "I can say that there are more occasions when I ask myself if streaming is really worth it," he writes, but notes that "none of these are likely concerns for a civilian listener."

Ross points to other annoyances about streaming AM/FM in general, including awkard and at times "unlistenable" stopsets and the difficultly of finding which app offers a particular station's stream (iHeartRadio? Radio.com? Some other aggregator?).

You can find Sean Ross' column at Radio-Info.com here and more on Pandora CFO Steve Cakebread's comments in Radio Survivor here.

Paul Maloney
February 2, 2012 - 11:00am

Canadian television, Internet, and telephone company Shaw Communications has unveiled fifteen branded commercial-free online music channels, powered by Galaxie Music.

While there are a couple "usual suspects" formats among the offerings ("Canadian Indie," "Headbangers," "Hip Hop"), most of the channels are dedicated to contemporary Asian genres ("Guangdong," "Punjabi," "Bollywood Hits," "Mando Pop") and other "cultural music."

Galaxie is the music content provider owned by Montreal-based Stingray Digital, who last year struck a deal with Canadian label-group Music Canada to pay $0.002 CAD per performance (see our coverage here) for the streaming rights to copyright recordings. In August, Stingray launched 45 commercial-free, subscription-based streaming music channels for mobile devices. These channels were branded as Galaxie for various cable and satellite television services.

Shaw's branded versions of the Galaxie channels will be made available on Shaw's television service as well. In total, 55 Galaxie music stations are now available to Shaw Digital TV customers for free.

In October, Astral Radio announced its on-demand music streaming service (see RAIN here, with more recent coverage here), offering "niche format channels" and "personalized streaming music." Just last month, the CBC announced it had forged a licensing deal that will enable it to launch its own digital music service (our coverage is here). Read more about Shaw's announcement here.

Michael Schmitt
February 2, 2012 - 11:00am

RAJARNew data from RAJAR -- the UK's radio audience measuring body -- shows that Internet radio's share and listening hours in Q4 2011 increased over the previous year.

Internet radio collected 35 million hours of listening during the quarter, RAJAR reports, and held a 3.4% share of radio listening. Both figures are up around 10% from Q4 2010.

That said, MediaWeek argues (here) that the figures "have yet to demonstrate that Radioplayer, the one-stop shop for online radio listening launched on 31 March last year, has had a real impact on the number of hours listened to internet radio." The publication points to the fact that Internet radio's 35 million hours of listening is actually down from the 40 million reported in Q3 2011.

You can find RAJAR's Q4 results here (PDF). James Cridland has more coverage and analysis of RAJAR's findings about digital radio at his blog here.