Industry announcements from Livio, Abacast, StreamGuys, Triton Digital, and more

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 12:15pm

Here are some new developments from industry firms (who aren't Apple) we think you may find interesting:

Livio has announced Livio Keys and the FM Traffic Button, two new products they say can generate new revenue for car manufacturers and app developers. Livio Keys is a "communication solution" that links carmakers and software developers with tools and customizable services. The FM Traffic Button uses code added to an embedded app on an in-dash infotainment system to provide up-to-the-minute, on-demand traffic reports for U.S. markets.

Abacast has announced a new partnership with Cue.AD, the first Israeli ad network for digital radio. The deal, says, Abacast, will provide that nation's first solution for digital radio broadcasters and advertisers along with a complete online radio streaming and monetization service.

Industry research firm Reportlinker has a new study out called "Global Internet Radio Industry," which it says provides comprehensive analytics for the U.S., Canada, Japan, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and more, with annual estimates and forecasts for 2010-2018. The report covers 45 companies like Pandora, Clear Channel, Slacker, Rhapsody, SomaFM, Digitally Imported, and AccuRadio. Read more (and purchase the report) here.

StreamGuys will now support the open-source Ogg Opus codec, which it says will give webcasters more options for high-quality, low-latency audio streaming. The Ogg Opus codec is free to use, offers broadcast-quality reproduction, and doesn't lag behind real-time broadcasting (like streaming MP3 can).

Triton Digital announced it's successfully deployed its Advertising Platform including Ad Injector to Sao Paulo, Brazil-based broadcaster Kiss Telecomunicações LTDA.

Marketron has expanded its partnership with Saga Communications. The broadcaster will now use Marketron's Insight reporting product, Proof of Performance, and Network Connect.

SoundExchange opens audits on Cumulus, Saga streaming music use

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 10:50am

SoundExchange, the recording industry body that administers royalties for digital uses of copyright sound recording (like webcasting and satellite radio) has reportedly begun auditing broadcast groups Cumulus Media and Saga Communications.

Broadcasters aren't mandated to pay royalties for their "on-air" use of sound recordings, but do become SoundExchange customers when they stream.

Inside Radio reports SoundExchange is "policing station logs to ensure broadcasters are paying what they should in streaming royalties," and that Beasley and Greater Media have already been under SoundExchange's microscope. SoundExchange will need to pay for the audits unless they find a licensee underpaying by 10% or more.

Industry groups that administer composition and publishing rights, ASCAP, BMI, and Sesac, conduct similar audits.

Inside Radio says SoundExchange is using an outside firm to conduct the audits. Read more here.

Hubbard's WTOP-FM/D.C. drops ad-insertion for "full simulcast"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 12:15pm

Hubbard Radio D.C. news outlet WTOP-FM has stopped inserting online-only ads into its web streaming, thereby duplicating its on-air programming online.

Senior Regional VP/Market Manager of Hubbard Radio's Washington, D.C. properties, Joel Oxley, explained the move as one to help Arbitron ratings: "Since WTOP is now a simulcast, those listeners can now be added to our Arbitron ratings. For WTOP even a slight move up in ratings can mean a significant rise in revenue." (quote from Inside Radio coverage)

If there are programming differences -- including ads -- between a station's on-air and its stream, Arbitron counts those audiences separately. If the programming is identical, Arbitron can combine the listening. Saga Communications announced a similar move in August (coverage here) for its streaming stations.

Saga renames PDs "brand managers" to reflect duties of a "multi-platform world"

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 11:20am

Saga Communications notified its program directors this week that their position titles have changed to "brand manager." Saga EVP Steve Goldstein wrote to these employees, "We truly live in a multi-platform world. As a Program Director, you are now spending an increased amount of your time thinking about and working with our various digital platforms. Whether it be the station website(s), social media such as Facebook, Twitter or crafting emails and texts, it’s all now a part of the PD’s day. This is in addition to managing the external marketing feel and visual aspects of the brand."

Saga is the broadcast group that recently made news for turning off the online streams for its properties in markets outside the top 100 (and limiting stream listening on the stations that are still online, so only local listeners can connect). The company also will no longer substitute "online only" content (such as online-only audio ads) when the on-air station goes to commercial break. See more here.

"We’ve been thinking about how successful programmers are morphing their skills to become proficient at not just managing the on-air product, but the overall brand," Goldstein's letter continued. "And conversely, it has exposed the vulnerability of Program Directors who are not learning and growing as we become more digital."

Saga Communications has more than 100 broadcast stations in 29 U.S. markets.

Saga's streaming move prompts more feedback from Radio Ink's Ed Ryan, Abacast's Rob Green

Monday, August 27, 2012 - 1:10pm

Radio InkLast week Saga announced it would no longer substitute "online only" content for the on-air ads on its station's web streams (RAIN coverage here). The move sparked criticism from Fred Jacobs, Ken Dardis and Bob Maccini among others (more here).

SagaNow Rob Green, CEO of Abacast (which offers ad-replacement technology for broadcasters among other services) has penned a guest editorial for Radio Ink (here). Green argues that "the radio industry today has, at best, a muddy message about its digital future, and the choice to simulcast looks like a step backward."

Meanwhile, Radio Ink editor Ed Ryan tried listening to a few random radio stations' simulcasts online. He posted the results of his experiment here. "Is the [online] product comparable to what goes out over the air?" The answer is easy, writes Ryan: "The products are not even close."

Saga no longer sees the need to cover on-air ads when streaming

Monday, August 20, 2012 - 1:10pm

Broadcast group Saga Communications has decided to no longer substitute "online only" content for the on-air ads on its stations' Internet streams. Now, everything that goes out over the air can also be heard online.

In June Saga announced it would shut down streams of stations outside the Top 100 markets, and place geographical limits on who can listen to the remaining streams (see RAIN here).

Ten years ago radio advertisers' agreement with AFTRA, the union that represents voice talent on radio commercials, forbid the online use of spots created for on-air radio without significantly costly added fees. This forced broadcasters to substitute other content on the stream when ads ran on-air. Broadcasters use various companies' technologies to "insert" other ads, public service announcements, music beds, or simply silence.

But Saga says those AFTRA stipulations are almost entirely a thing of the past. "It doesn’t make sense for us to change the entire way do business because of a couple of isolated incidents," Saga EVP Warren Lada told Inside Radio. "The voice talent is negotiating a contract with advertiser or agency — it’s up to them to come up with whatever that arrangement is."

"Lada says SAG-AFTRA reps have also told him that as long as a union talent is paid the negotiated rate for a multi-platform ad they now essentially see it as a non-issue — and the union doesn’t track radio spots regardless," reports Inside Radio.

Lada says he first looked into the issue because the substitution of online-only content over the on-air ads sounded terrible (uneven audio levels, timing problems, etc.). He said he's not worried about losing the streaming inventory, because it's really not all that profitable, especially compared to mobile text messaging and e-mail blasts. "It’s time for the industry to man up and recognize that primarily most of our audience is on-air and we should just include the stream with it — it’s just part of what we do," he said.

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