Saga to limit streaming to top 100 markets, points to high costs

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Issue Date: 
Jun 15 2012 - 12:40pm

From Issue:

Saga CommunicationsSaga Communications has reportedly decided to stop streaming to markets outside the top 100. And for webcasts within the top 100, it will place geographic limits so only local listeners can tune in. However, the company has also reportedly added online streams for some news/talk stations.

"If you’re putting on an AC station or a country station, the Internet is littered with choices. In the communities where we are news providers that is something that listeners might go to the website and stream," CEO Ed Christian told Inside Radio.

Saga says it thinks the costs of a music streaming radio station are too high. Streaming expenses run to about $800,000 per month, said Saga, most of which goes to SoundExchange for music royalties. News/talk formats don't incur such high royalty costs. Additionally, streaming represents a "very small" percentage of Saga's overall listening.

The company is looking for other ways to reduce streaming costs, like placing a 90-minute listening timeout on streams. At that point, the listener is asked if they are still listening. Apparently 8% of listeners don't respond. "While that’s a small number, when you look at what SoundExchange charges it can add up," said EVP of operations Warren Lada.

But Saga is still open to expanding its streaming offerings in the future. "We’re still a radio company and we can always re-establish streaming at any point in time and have everything back up in a week or two," said Christian. But for now, "we want to allocate the resources where it’s best for our company."

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