Ramsey: Radio mobile apps should offer more than just a stream, should add value to AM/FM broadcast

Monday, March 19, 2012 - 12:40pm

Radio apps"In radio, our premise too often is that a mobile app is simply a new distrubtion mechanism for our existing content." So writes industry analyst Mark Ramsey in a new blog post.

He argues that view, while not necessarily wrong, overlooks opportunities. Namely, the opportunity to complement and improve the over-the-air station and brand -- to act as "companions," writes Ramsey.

"Consider a sports station or a station with a big morning show. The opportunities to provide interactive mobile games and polls and conversation between fans and on-air hosts boggle the mind."

The suggestion sounds familiar to CBS Radio's Audio Roadshow iPhone app, which lets listeners rate interviews and topics (through thumbs-up and -down buttons in the app), or participate in polls or questions asked by on-air hosts. Ramsey covered the app in February (here; RAIN coverage here).

You can find Ramsey's blog post here.

Pew: Mobile devices beginning to impact broadcast radio, but may prove a "saving factor" for journalism

Monday, March 19, 2012 - 12:40pm

Pew's findings on mobile news consumptionLast year news media "entered a new era," writes the Pew Research Center. "The age of mobile, in which people are connected to the web wherever they are... the new era brings mixed blessings." That's the big takeaway from Pew's new report, "The State of the News Media 2012."

For radio in particular, "digital options are beginning to have an impact" on AM/FM, "especially in the mobile realms." Pew notes that nearly 40% of people listen to online-only audio services (a number which eMarketer expects to double by 2015). "Even more worrisome for AM/FM radio, in-car listening via smartphones nearly doubled in the last year to 11% of people who own cellphones. And carmakers are installing new models with internet-ready listening," writes Pew. 

One of the biggest names in news radio, NPR, saw a drop in total listening "for the first time in years, but the organization is making headway in developing digital platforms to reach new audiences," the report states.

Overall though, Pew repeats what it wrote last year: "the news industry... finds itself more a follower than a leader shaping its business." The industry is following a handful of tech giants (like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) which are "rapidly moving to consolidate their power by becoming makers of 'everything' in our digital lives."

Though in 2011 "traditional news operations also took new steps to monetize the web in their own right," five tech companies accounted for nearly 70% of all web ad revenue.

But it may be the mobile devices those tech companies produce -- especially tablets -- that preserves the "demand for long-form, quality journalism," argues Chris Hughes, who recently bought The New Republic.

"In sum," concludes Pew, "the news industry is not much closer to a new revenue model than a year earlier and has lost more ground to rivals in the technology industry. But growing evidence also suggests that news is becoming a more important and pervasive part of people’s lives. That, in the end, could prove a saving factor for the future of journalism."

You can find Pew's report here.

Billboard sums up CRS: How to compete with web radio and best utilize new technology

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 11:35am

CRS 2012"If country radio wants to successfully weather a difficult transitional decade, the medium will need to come to grips with new tech while maintaining a personal connection with its audience." That was the "big-picture takeway" from the Country Radio Seminar last week, according to Billboard.

Edison Research's study on the awareness of web radio services among Country radio fans and the importance of live, local DJs to compete with Internet radio was a major topic at CRS (RAIN coverage here).

But as Billboard writes, "Country radio's future strategy isn't just about battling new technology for the listeners' attention. It's also about using that technology to enhance the terrestrial brand... Particularly on the Internet, stations were encouraged to begin thinking of their websites not as a dumping ground or a sidetrack, but as a new creative pallet that's integrated with the on-air product." 

You can find Billboard's full coverage here.

Revenue picture even brighter when all forms of radio included

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 11:00am

RABRadio's digital revenues for 2011 increased more than 15% over 2010, according to new data from the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB).

That said, radio's digital revenues in 2011 ($709 million) accounted for just over 4% of total revenues. "While that number is growing, it’s not growing fast enough to replace ad dollars lost in the form of declining spot revenues," writes Jennifer Lane in Audio4Cast (here). Spot revenues reportedly dropped 1% from 2010.

Overall revenues for radio in 2011 increased about 0.6% from 2010. 

MoneyHowever, the industry's growth rate may actually be over 3 times higher if one includes revenue from Internet radio and satellite radio services!

If revenues from Pandora, other webcasters and SiriusXM were added to the totals from the RAB, the industry's revenue actually grew around 2% from 2010 (math below).

Moreover, including Internet radio revenue in the RAB's digital radio numbers would double the 15% annual growth to more than 30%.

Here's the math (all figures rounded): Radio's 2010 revenue, combined with Pandora (about $138 million), other webcasters (estimated at nearly $21 million) and SiriusXM ($2.82 billion) would be about $20.3 billion. In 2011, also including Pandora (projected to be $273-$277 million), SiriusXM ($3.01 billion) and webcasters (est. $41 million) would be about $20.7 billion.

Meanwhile, radio's 2010 digital revenue -- with web radio included -- would be around $773.4 million and 2011 digital revenue just over $1 billion.

You can find the RAB's data here-- MS, KH

Exclusivity, promotion requirements and a fear of "getting lost in the shuffle" keeping some away from CC's web radio platform

Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 11:00am

iHeartRadio's websiteAs a broadcaster, is joining iHeartRadio a smart move? That's the question that, for the past few weeks, broadcasters, analysts and publications have debated (RAIN coverage here and here).

Recently Inside Radio spoke to several broadcasters -- both those who have joined Clear Channel's streaming platform and others who have taken "a wait-and-see stance" -- to see what they think.

"You’re giving away a lot," said one broadcaster, worried about iHeartRadio's exclusivity requirement. "It’s just not the way our world works today," said another.

“It would limit all of the in-home and in-TV scenarios that could open up as we move down the road."

Earlier this month, Carleton College's radio station declined an offer to join iHeartRadio because it would mean the college would have to pull its streams from other aggregators, like TuneIn (more here).

Broadcasters debate iHeartRadio's valueInside Radio reports that Univision Radio and Educational Media Foundation removed their streams from aggregator TuneIn following their partnership with iHeartRadio, while Cumulus and Greater Media will soon also not be available on TuneIn. However, WNYC's deal is not exclusive.

Other broadcasters "object to what [they] consider a 'significant' amount of on-air promotion," required by Clear Channel. There's also the problem that faces any aggregator: "getting lost in the shuffle of hundreds of stations with names that don’t mean anything to non-local listeners."

Indeed, one iHeartRadio partner told Inside Radio: “I don’t think anybody has yet figured out a real consumer-friendly way of organizing the incredible multiplicity of streamed audio that’s out there."

Inside RadioHowever, other broadcasters who have added their stations to iHeartRadio (not surprisingly) defended the platform: "Clear Channel won," said one. "They’ve got the platform, and you need such massive scale to be the incumbent application on devices and in autos that it could have only been done by them or CBS Radio.”

Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey agrees. "To have a prominent position in the user interface in cars and devices, critical mass is essential. That’s what aligning behind one strong app will enable broadcasters to do.”

You can subscribe for Inside Radio's daily newsletters right here.

As always, we want to know what you think! Is joining iHeartRadio a good idea? Share your thoughts by commenting on this story below.

Aggregator RadioFlag uses listener "flags" for personalized recommendations

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 11:10am

RadioFlagWeb radio aggregator RadioFlag lets listeners "flag" content through tweet-like messages. RadioFlag then uses that information to provide suggestions, trends and search results for other users.

The idea sounds similar to features offered by other aggregators. TuneIn, for example, lets users search radio streams by artist, using stations' playlists and now playing info. RadioFlag differs in relying on user-supplied information.

Radio World has much more coverage on the service, including analysis from Fred Jacobs, right here.

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