Pew Research writes "Digital Drives Listener Experience" for radio

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 1:00pm

As "technology is turning what we once thought of as radio into something broader -- listening" (as Pew wrote in 2006), online-only and satellite radio (while still a small share of overall radio revenue) have the more positive financial forecasts for the long-term.

That's from an overview essay of the "audio" section of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism new annual report on the state of the news media. The essay is called "Audio: Digital Drives Listener Experience." (While the study focuses mostly on news content, it certainly isn't limited to that, discussing Pandora, Spotify, and the Intenret radio Fairness Act, among other topics.)

Pew also concluded that NPR "may have positioned itself for the digital age better than other news radio." On-air listening declines as NPR may very well be partially the result of robust digital offerings on the web, podcasts, and mobile apps.

One digital platform that's failing is HD Radio. Now, more stations are actually dropping their HD signal than are adopting the technology, and there are fewer HD signals on the air than a year ago.

See more of the Pew study here. There are more charts from the paper here.

Pew study shows 25% of teens go online via smartphones

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 1:35pm

A new Pew Internet & American Life Project study called "Teens and Technology 2013" says one-quarter of U.S. teens access the Internet mostly via smartphone. Just 15% of of those 18+ do the same.

More than a third of Americans age 12-17 say they own a smartphone device, up from 23% in 2011. And while teen girls are just as likely as boys to have a smartphone, 34% use them on the Web (compared to 24% of boys).

Pew says the teen "cell-mostly" Internet population could mean a surge of mobile Internet use in the near future.

Read Washington Post coverage here.

For 17% of cellphone owners, mobile devices primary way to get online, study finds

Friday, June 29, 2012 - 11:45am

SmartphonesThe Pew Internet and American Life Project recently found that a whopping 88% of U.S. adults own a cellphone. That's up 24% from 2009.

Of that group, 55% use their mobile devices to browse the web. And of that 55%, nearly a third say they use their cellphone to access the Internet more than any other device. That comes out to around 17% of U.S. adult cellphone owners.

"The study details the fact that mobile web design is not a backwater at all, but is instead a mainstream avenue that millions use to access the content that is most important to them," writes TheNextWeb (here).

"The Internet is mobile, and only becoming more so. Be ready."

NPR SVP of Marketing: "Public radio is actually expanding"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 11:50am

NPR News on the iPadAccording to the Pew Research Center, NPR's average weekly over-the-air audience declined slightly in 2011. But digital is where the growth is, says NPR CEO Gary Knell. "Our digital growth is exploding," he told the Nieman Journalism Lab.

Average weekly listening to NPR programming dipped 1.45% from 2010 to 2011, according to Pew's "State of the News Media 2012" report (RAIN coverage here). 

"Our view is that radio isn’t in decline; public radio is actually expanding," said NPR SVP of Marketing Dana Davis Rehm. 

CEO Knell recently stated, “Radio isn’t going away, it's going everywhere... We need to reach audience in ways convenient and accessible to them in emerging and traditional platforms."

Pew points to a few of NPR's digital achievements:

  • Traffic to NPR's website grew over 29% in 2011 (compared to 2010), reaching 17.7 million unique visitors according to Pew. 
  • NPR launched its Pandora-like Infinite Player in 2011 (RAIN coverage here).
  • NPR's apps were downloaded nearly 6 million times by the end of 2011.
  • Monthly downloads of NPR's podcasts grew 20% from 2010.
  • NPR's Facebook page was ranked #3 among the Top 10 fastest-growing news pages.

NPR also earlier this year partnered with Ford for dashboard integration of the NPR News app (RAIN coverage here).

NPR CEO Gary Knell

"NPR’s gotta be on there," Knell (pictured left) said of next-generation car dashboards. "Public radio’s gotta be a player. If we’re not on these platforms, we’re dead. This isn’t a choice of whether -- it’s really a choice of how."

SVP Rehm says NPR is working with member stations to measure streaming listening. This may or may not refer to NPR's addition of Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics to its Digital Services' suite of analytics offerings last week (NPR offers member stations an introduction to Webcast Metrics here).

Pew writes, "If NPR can attract new audiences to its projects across nontraditional platforms and continue to get funding to cover associated start-up costs, it could make up for the loss of terrestrial listeners."

The Nieman Jouranlism Lab points out (here) that weekly listening to NPR stations (in contrast to NPR programming) grew from 2010 to 2011.

"Still, the data in Pew’s report portends near-term challenges for radio," writes the Nieman Lab. The Pew report noted that "there is also evidence in the data that people listen to AM/FM out convenience rather than out of deeper appreciation for the content."

Pew published much more data on radio and Internet radio as a whole. The report includes figures on the growth of listening to online-only radio services (while listening to AM/FM web streams remains flat), and on the projected growth of digital radio revenues. You can find more from Pew 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.

Now more smartphones than feature phones in U.S. as AT&T tweaks "unlimited" data offering

Friday, March 2, 2012 - 11:15am

iPhoneThere are now more smartphone owners in the U.S. than feature phone owners, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. "Feature phones" are more basic than smartphones and usually don't support apps or other web-based features.

“Nearly every major demographic group — men and women, younger and middle-aged adults, urban and rural residents, the wealthy and the less well off — experienced a notable uptick in smartphone penetration," Pew noted. Boy Genius Report has more coverage here.

Meanwhile, AT&T yesterday responded to customer complaints regarding its "unlimited" data plan. Previously the company was throttling data speeds for "unlimited" data plan customers after they consumed 2GB of data in a billing period. AT&T has now upped that limit to 3GB.

Eliot Van Buskirk made some calculations about how much web radio or music one could listen to before hitting the 3GB throttle point. Find his analysis at here.

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