listening

Pandora growth slows for summer, but August numbers significantly top last year's

Monday, September 10, 2012 - 2:00pm

Internet radio listening as a whole traditionally slows during the summer months (see our coverage of the July Webcast Metrics here), and Pandora's August numbers show they're not an exception. But their year-to-year growth remains a positive.

The webcaster says it streamed 1.16 billion aggregate "listener hours" for the month, a 70% increase from the 682 million it streamed in August of 2011 -- but actually down slightly from 1.2 billion in July (see RAIN here). Pandora also says it has 56.2 million "active listeners" (that is, the number of accounts that've signed in during the last 30 days) now, up 48% from August of last year (38 million), and but up only slightly over July's 55 million.

Finally, Pandora says its "share of total U.S. radio listening" is now up to 6.30%, an increase from 3.67% at the same time last year (and from 6.13% in July).

Arbitron, Edison report "largest year-over-year jump" in weekly Net radio usage they've yet seen

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 11:40am

Two weeks ago Edison Research and Arbitron announced they'd found weekly Internet radio listening grew 30% during 2011 (see our coverage here), and that 29% of 12+ Americans (76 million) now listen to Internet radio weekly, for an average of almost ten hours a week. Yesterday the companies officially released the study from which that finding comes, "The Infinite Dial 2012: Navigating Digital Platforms."

"We’ve been tracking the usage of online radio in this series since 1998, and this year’s increase in weekly usage is the largest year-over-year jump we’ve ever recorded," said Bill Rose, Arbitron SVP/Marketing.  Edison Research VP/Strategy and Marketing Tom Webster added "The jump in weekly online radio usage is remarkable, but really a trailing variable to the rise in smartphone penetration, which has enabled much of that growth."

As always (this is the 20th edition of the study), the researchers looked at cellphone/smartphone penetration and use, other portable digital media devices, overall Internet usage, online video, and social media. 

A few points of interest to the Internet radio industry:

  • 39% of Americans 12+ (103 million) have listened to Internet radio in the last month.
  • 17% of cell phone owners report listening to Internet radio in their cars by connecting their phones to their car stereo, a 50% increase in the past year.
  • Smartphone ownership has tripled in the last two years. 44% of all 12+ Americans own a smartphone, which is half of all cell phone owners.
  • A third of at-work radio listening is done on a computer or mobile device. 12% of smartphone owners listen to online radio "several times per day" or more.
  • "Heavy" Internet and radio users are more likely to be employed full-time.

Read more from Edison Research and Arbitron here, and see all the research presentation slides here.

Server log data can't always tell the whole story, says Arbitron

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 11:35am

Yesterday afternoon Arbitron issued a statement advising against comparing its own survey-based PPM audience estimates to those of "Internet music services" based on server logs.

"Arbitron urges those reviewing audience estimates from Internet music services not to make direct comparisons to Arbitron audience estimates in any market," they wrote.

The paper from Arbitron came just hours after industry news sources like Inside Radio (as well as this publication here) quoted broadcast radio executives expressing trepidation over Arbitron's own upcoming Total Audience Measurement service -- a new ratings service designed to measure listening across AM/FM, satellite, and Internet platforms (latest here). It also came on the same day Arbitron competitor Triton Digital announced its new program for local market ratings for webcasters (here). 

But Arbitron's afternoon missive seems to actually be in response to recent PR from leading webcaster Pandora and market research firm Edison Research. In summer Edison began announcing results of studies it said indicated that Pandora had become a significant competitor to traditional radio in major U.S. radio markets. Last week Edison released its latest data (here), indicating not only that Pandora now had at least a 1.0 AQH rating 18-34 in nearly all the top ten markets, but for the first time showing cume ratings. As Tom Taylor writes in Radio-Info, "suddenly, the metrics are starting to look very 'radio'-like." [Indeed, Arbitron insists, "Highlighting the differences between estimates, even those with the same names and descriptors, is part of our obligation to the industries we serve."]

In its statement, titled Thoughts on Comparing Audience Estimates (it's a .pdf file, here), Arbitron (1) insists that audience estimates of broadcast listening (many people listening to the same thing at the same time) can't reliably be put side-by-side with estimates of webcast listening, where each listener gets his own stream.

Arbitron also advises (2) against using webcast audience estimates that don't include explicitly-cited limitations and "detailed description of methodology" for making their estimates. Next, (3) with "many Internet music channels... there appears to be no way of confirming if anyone is on the other end throughout the session." And, (4) those Internet services can't always verify whether "self-reported registration data are reliable and that users do not have multiple accounts."

Read a more point-by-point summary of the Arbitron paper from Tom Taylor in Radio-Info here

Consultant Mark Ramsey defends the veracity of server-side measurement and takes apart Arbitron's arguments here.

"Perhaps we should be bringing Arbitron up to date," he wrote, "rather than blowing dust onto metrics which are based on every user with 100% accuracy, not a smattering of sampled users with sketchy accuracy."

RAIN Analysis: The timing of this statement from Arbitron is pretty awkward, it would seem. Arbitron needs to walk a pretty fine line here. On the one hand, it's attempting to discredit audience estimates based on the data culled from servers about "when" and "how much" those servers send out into the ether. Yet, it needs to quell a brewing client rebellion among broadcasters over its own Total Audience Measurement service -- a service that will reportedly estimate listening based partially on server log data. Stay tuned. -- PM

Triton's Agovino wants radio to go for new revenue with online listening, not traditional on-air budgets

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 12:25pm

Mike AgovinoTriton Media COO Mike Agovino "took to the blog" this week to point out that with October's Webcast Metrics, the total measured online listening audience has now passed 1.6 million "Average Active Sessions (AAS)" for the "workday" daypart (M-F 6A-8P). [AAS is Total Listening Hours (TLH) divided by hours in the reported time period. Similarly to Arbitron's "Average Quarter Hour," you can think of it as "the number of listeners at an average moment within the time period." ]

The online radio audience measured by Triton Webcast Metrics, Agovino says, is growing by about 100,000 AAS every 3 months (see the chart on the right). Should the industry be able to maintain that growth, Internet radio will have a 3 million AAS by 2015 -- 10% of radio's total audience.Webcast Metrics AAS quarterly trends

Agovino took the occasion to explain how  radio's current audience is worth $650-$900 million in revenue to the industry (between pre-roll audio/video ads, instream audio ads, and display ads with typical CPMs).

But he makes another point here too. You may know Arbitron is planning to roll out an "integrated audience" measurement system (see today's top story) -- to tally listening to radio whether its online or over-the-air. Arbitron wants to allow radio to present the online audience using the same traditional broadcast metrics, thereby enabling ad buyers to more easily extend their buys across both platforms. But instead of combining listening, Agovino wants radio to create a new revenue channel. He's suggesting broadcasters should be able to dip into both marketers' broadcast and interactive budgets alike.

"The dimensions of online audio expand the offering way beyond sound to include the interactive, targeting and visual benefits of online ads," he wrote. "Digital, mobile and social budgets are prime targets for this base of impressions... Selling the online audience with the on-air audience relegates publishers to fishing in the same revenue streams as they have always fished. These are not the budgets that are growing, but rather the ones that are shrinking."

Read more from Triton Media COO Mike Agovino here.

Webcasters plan to bring real-time group listening to Facebook, says Van Buskirk

Monday, September 26, 2011 - 12:00pm

FacebookEvolver.fm's Eliot Van Buskirk notes that what may have been "the neatest thing about Facebook Music" is currently missing. That is, real-time group listening a la Turntable.fm, where a group of online users are listening to the same music at the same time.

But he writes (here, reprinted by CNN) that "at least two streaming radio services plan to implement it. Slacker, specifically, says it has been working with Facebook to do so for months."

PANDORA CUTS 40-HOUR LISTENING CAP AS IT LAUNCHES NEW HTML5 SITE

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 11:00am

Pandora today launchedPandora's new HTML5-powered website its new redesigned website to all users while removing its 40-hour per month listening cap.

The new site is faster (thanks to swapping out Adobe's Flash technology for HTML5), includes a strong focus on social media and better organizes the service's features. It rolled out to Pandora One premium subscribers in July. Pandora CTO Tom Conrad says the company has been working on the redesign for "more than a year."

You can read more about Pandora's new website in our review here and our original coverage here.

Conrad also announced today that Pandora has removed its 40-hour listening cap for free users. You can find his blog post here.

For more analysis, check out Elliot Van Buskirk's article in Evolver.fm (here) in which he ponders how the new Pandora will work with Facebook's coming music announcement.

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