Net radio can make a buck by making its own content, says consultant

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 11:50am

Radio consultant Walter Sabo yesterday counted "Internet radio" among his list of "Five Trends About to Make a Buck," but the key will be shifting to "marketable, own-able, and profitable" original content.

In a column, he contends webcasters' real payday will come when they develop their own original, compelling programming, and not simply aggregate content that's also available elsewhere (especially if that other content is copyright music which "comes with insane, uncontrollable royalty fees.")

"HBO, Showtime, USA Networks, AMC, SiriusXM, were all aggregators of content made by other companies and distributed on other platforms," Sabo wrote. "The result was customers chose one 'movie' channel. HBO and its competitors had to distinguish themselves with original content such as 'The Sopranos' and 'Weeds' to give customers a reason to subscribe to more than one premium channel."

Read Sabo's column (and see the other four "trends about to make a buck") at here.

Online, mobile aggregator TuneIn unveils plans to add pre-rolls to stations' streams

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 12:50pm

If you're not familiar, think of TuneIn as a directory of online radio streams from all over the world -- a single app which gives you more than 70-thousand choices of broadcast and online-only streams. (They're probably most similar to Clear Channel's iHeartRadio service, but not broadcaster-owned.)

Now CEO John Donham reveals in a paidContent interview his service will run "pre-roll" audio ads before launching a listener's chosen stream. To this point, TuneIn has only added display ads (like "banners"), never audio or video.

"We’re going to do audio adverts before the stream and have a companion display ad associated with them," he said. But only if that broadcaster or webcaster themselves isn't scheduling pre-rolls. "We don’t touch any broadcaster streams. If a broadcaster has a pre-roll in front of the stream, we won’t stomp over that. It would be a double-negative to user experience if you got multiple pre-rolls before the content."

Donham believes the "free, ad-supported" approach has far more potential for revenue than subscription/premium models. Though the TuneIn app has both a free and a premium paid version of its app (with built-in recording capability), Donham told the publication, "The number one way we monetise is advertising on the free app. We would rather you listen to the free app than the paid. We would urge you to switch.

"One of the cool things about radio is, it’s free. There are literally billions of people who consume radio every month. What a gigantic opportunity – we’re not going to get them all to subscribe to something – we’re going to get them to listen for free and monetise that."

TuneIn raised $16 million in funding this summer. Donham says the money will go to hiring experts to better develop "discovery" for listeners, such as presenting new listening options based on the listener's history. He also wants to establish his brand in the minds of consumers as the "Netflix/iTunes/Amazon" for radio.

Read more in paidContent here.

TuneIn VP/Sales & Business Development Carl Rohling will participate in "The Connected Dashboard," a panel discussion about establishing Internet audio as a simple yet powerful in-car entertainment medium at RAIN Summit Europe, October 4th in Berlin.

Hard on the heels of iHeartRadio, TuneIn announces OUYA app

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 12:05pm

OUYAYesterday we reported iHeartRadio would offer an app for the much-anticipated gaming platform OUYA (RAIN coverage here). Now OUYA has announced web radio aggregator TuneIn will also offer an app for the device (more coverage here).

TuneIn and iHeartRadio "are going head-to-head in the marketplace," writes the New York Times (find our coverage here), "as consumers grow accustomed to tapping on one app for all their radio needs, and manufacturers of everything from televisions to cars begin to incorporate suites of streaming apps."


NYT: Broadcasters face "thorny" problem of which service to join

Monday, August 6, 2012 - 12:45pm

TuneIn and iHeartRadioWeb radio aggregators TuneIn and Clear Channel's iHeartRadio have become "symbols for the challenges of adapting to the digital age" for the radio industry, writes the New York Times. The two services -- now "going head-to-head in the marketplace" -- actually have much in common.

Both offer an enormous range of radio station streams (70,000 from TuneIn, nearly 2,000 live stations from iHeartRadio). Both are increasingly popular: TuneIn just today announced it now has 40 million monthly users, while Clear Channel says iHeartRadio has more than 12 million registered users.

"But as businesses they represent two poles of media," writes NYT. Where TuneIn only serves as an aggregator or directory, iHeartRadio has launched its own customizable radio service "modeled after Pandora" (not mention a series of "iHeartRadio Originals" stations, here). And iHeartRadio is only a piece of Clear Channel. That's a trait CC executives say is an advantage.

"The great thing about iHeartRadio,” said Clear Channel Media and Entertainment CEO John Hogan, “is that it is just one of a number of opportunities that we have to monetize the audience." 

Federated Media has just announced they will add their 17 radio stations to iHeartRadio (more coverage here). And iHeartRadio has added a new station dedicated to financial talk radio host Dave Ramsey (more coverage here).

But some broadcasters feel uneasy "about joining a platform run by the biggest player in the market," especially when "Clear Channel has been aggressive in pushing for exclusivity." That includes Entercom, which has joined TuneIn but not yet iHeartRadio. "Sharing our content is a good thing, if the business arrangement makes sense," said Entercom CEO David Field (more here).

TuneIn, on the other hand, is independent. That means it doesn't have the same sort of major media company backing as iHeartRadio, though TuneIn has just announced $16 million in new funding (bringing its total financing up to $22 million).

New York TimesBut that also means TuneIn has a level of "neutrality in the radio business," which the company says makes it a "safer choice for broadcasters." TuneIn CEO John Donham told NYT, "We are not a broadcaster, so we do not have any inherent interest for any broadcaster to succeed or fail."

More and more broadcasters, however, have opted to join both platforms. They aim "to be everywhere they could be possibly be."

"Everybody is looking at this and saying, look, you don’t know where the world is going, and you need to be in a lot of places,” said Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan. KCRW director of interactive media Anil Dewan said, "Our mission is about getting our content to as wide an audience as possible." Both KCRW and Emmis have joined TuneIn and iHeartRadio.

"It would be better for services and listeners if there were more than two aggregators offering access to every service out there, making it as easy as possible to listen," argues Audio4Cast's Jennifer Lane (here). "And stations, broadcasters and pureplays, should work with all of them."

Though "thorny" problems remain -- including "the possibility of being lost within the aggregators, like needles in enormous digital haystacks" -- the NYT writes (here) that both iHeartRadio and TuneIn can "help [radio broadcasters] reach audiences in the growing but increasingly fragmented world of online radio."

TuneIn adds Hubbard Radio stations to web radio directory

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 12:40pm

TuneInHubbard Radio has added its 21 radio stations' streams to TuneIn's Internet radio directory. Hubbard operates stations in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis and Cincinnati.

"We’re thrilled that Hubbard, a top-10 U.S. broadcaster, chose TuneIn as the service to power its digital strategies and listener base expansion," said TuneIn CEO John Donham.

Hubbard Radio"With TuneIn, we’ve made a great leap onto the digital stage and look forward to inviting new listeners to our stations," said Hubbard Radio President/CEO Bruce Reese.

You can find the companies' press release here.

Earlier this month TuneIn added NPR programming (RAIN coverage here). In late June the service added more than 600 streams from 20 major broadcasting companies (including Fox News Radio and Bloomberg Radio; more here), added content from Carolla Digital (more here) and station streams from Entercom, Cox and Emmis (more here).

TuneIn adds NPR programming

Friday, July 13, 2012 - 12:00pm

Tuning service and stream aggregator TuneIn has added NPR programming to the fold. All NPR live and on-demand programming, plus that of NPR member stations who want to join, will now be available via TuneIn's website and mobile apps (as well as on devices and car dashboard systems that use TuneIn's technology).

TuneIn users can stream NPR programming live, and access past episodes of all NPR programs (e.g. "Fresh Air," "All Songs Considered," "Talk of the Nation," "Planet Money," "TED Radio Hour" and "Car Talk") on-demand in TuneIn's podcast section. NPR and joining member stations are now also able to access what TuneIn calls the "TuneIn Amplifier," its set of analytics and ad-management tools. 

TuneIn says 30 million people use its service monthly. TuneIn's press release is here.

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