AOL Music announced, or at least its laid off employees announced on friday afternoon that it will shut down. Shortly after that, AOL Radio’s twitter account explained that the streaming service operated by Slacker would not be shutting down. The shut down encompasses the main site that offers free music videos, song lyrics, downloads, and music news and includes sites Noisecreep (hard rock and heavy metal); The Boot (country); The Boombox (hip hop/R&B); as well as Spinner and AOL Music.
AOL Radio and reportedly Shoutcast will survive the cuts. In June of 2011 AOL Radio paired up with Slacker in a deal that moved their channels into Slacker’s portal of offerings. Slacker picked up the traffic and also the costs of streaming those channels.
Shoutcast, which AOL acquired back in the late 90s, is another story entirely. That portal gives bandwidth to more than 50,000 global stations. They have a very large audience and are quite possibly the biggest streaming portal online. (It’s never been clear to me what the business model is for Shoutcast, but that’s another story.)
AOL has certainly been through changes, struggling to retain or regain brand prominence in recent years. In 2011 they bought Huffington Post and have placed more emphasis on becoming a top notch news portal. AOL Music is likely a victim of that transition.
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Triton Digital has released its monthly top 20 report for December 2011, based on its measurement of streaming platforms that subscribe to its Webcast Metrics service.
I’m weary of the microscopic monthly analysis of this data, so I decided to take a look at what has happened to the general space in a year.
- Pandora continues to completely dominate the measured pack. From January 2011 to December 2011 they grew their AAS (Average Active Sessions) by 88%. Session starts grew by less, meaning they did a pretty good job of holding on to their listeners. Their Time Spent was down, but only slightly from .83 to .75.
- Slacker was the big winner in terms of share of growth, they increased the size of their AAS by nearly 93%. The numbers are much smaller though, Slacker ended the year with an AAS of 50,767, in part thanks to the addition of AOL‘s streaming audience to its network. Slacker’s growing their audience and their tsl — gaining listeners and getting them to listen longer.
- Clear Channel’s online platform is iHeartRadio, although on the ranker it appears as Clear Channel. Their online audience grew as well, but not as much as you might expect given all the promotion. AAS is up by 48%. TSL down from 1.15 to .63 – more listeners spending less time listening.
- CBSRadio’s online platform suffered the loss of AOL’s streaming audience when they moved to Slacker. Their online audience dropped nearly 40% last year.
- ESPNRadio.com started the year on a big high of 17000, the largest standalone streaming number. At the end of the year they were still the biggest, although their number is down to 13,959 in December. It is possible given their singular focus on sports that January’s exciting football playoffs factor into that, I’m not sure.
Got more observations? Chime in! Here are the rankers I took my observations from:
Triton Digital has released its ranker of the top 20 stations or networks measured within its Webcast Metrics audience measurement platform for May. At the top of the ranker, Pandora picked up another 30,000 or so Average Active Sessions, some of this a result of missing data from the last several months, which had been noted in previous data releases.
Other services were fairly stable, with CBSRadio losing a little in their AAS and Clear Channel picking up a few thousand. We’ll see a bigger loss assigned to CBSRadio in the coming months as the AOL audience number moves onto the Slacker platform and becomes part of that number. Slacker has said that their number will benefit by doubling with the addition of AOL’s measured audience. On their own, they have actually been losing a little ground on the ranker, their AAS dropped about a thousand from last month and roughly two thousand from March.
I’ve begun to think that a monthly microscope on each station or services ups and downs is overkill, so I’m reluctant to recite the minor changes that occur with every new data release. I think what’s more interesting is growth over several months and trending as it relates to big changes (like the AOL shift from CBSRadio to Slacker.)
I’m also hoping to see more and more information on listening patterns – how much is on a desktop versus mobile within these audiences? Where is the audience concentrated in terms of dayparts as well as geography? And what’s the universe looking like? I’m hoping that we’ll see more and more of that as the Webcast Metrics service matures and measures more and more of the Internet radio landscape..
Nielsen Entertainment recently expanded its coverage of music streaming measurement, adding several key streaming platforms to its streaming panel. Newly added services include Vevo, Slacker, MOG, Thumbplay, Akoo, and Cricket. Data from these services, and from the existing reporting panel consisting of AOL, Napster, Rhapsody, Verizon Wireless and Yahoo! will appear in Nielsen’s BDS reports.
Nielsen Entertainment produces reports on lots of activity related to the music industry – Nielsen BDS monitors music played on radio stations in the US, Canada, Europe and Mexico. Nielsen SoundScan reports on physical and digital song sales. They provide lots of insight into things like what songs people listen to and buy, which it sells to radio programmers, record companies, etc. Sources like Billboard produce their reports from this data.
During the first six weeks of 2011, Nielsen tracked more than 1.1 billion music streams through online music streaming services. More than 165 million streams per week are captured and nearly 26 million weekly song downloads are tracked. That is a lot of streaming music activity.
According to their press release, Nielsen is the only company able to provide weekly trending information on streaming activity, as well as a more granular understanding of from where consumers stream music. Nielsen also provides insights on the type of streams; on-demand streams, those songs/videos that consumers choose to listen to, versus programmed streams, or when songs are not chosen by the consumer.
As music streaming activity and digital downloads increase while physical song sales sink, streaming’s importance is growing as an important measure of who is listening to what. I expect we’ll see the list of streaming music platforms in their panel to continue to grow.
It was bound to happen. Adam Carolla, whose standalone podcast project consistently ranks multiple shows in the iTunes top ten audio podcasts, will join a late night video block of programming on AOL that will, no doubt, extend his reach and build his brand while contributing to increased audience and revenue for them as well.
Last week AOL announced a new late night video block of programming featuring content from “The Adam Carolla Show,” ”Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show,” and Kevin Smith’s SModcast Network. Fans will be able to both hear and see the best moments from these popular podcasts and talk shows on a nightly basis exclusively on AOL.com.
This move will feature weekly highlights from ACE Broadcasting’s “The Adam Carolla Show,” where the celebrated author of the bestselling In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks interviews celebrities, athletes and other persons of note. That programming will be paired with highlights from Kevin Smith’s Smodcast Podcast network, and Kevin Pollack’s weekly video show Kevin Pollack’s Chat Show.
Carolla, Pollack and Smith will each maintain their own online presence and continue producing their programming. AOL will feature highlights, and no doubt extend their reach. When I checked, Carolla had 3 podcast shows in the top ten audio podcasts on iTunes, with another at number 11. His show has seen over 50 million downloads, making him the most popular audio podcast of all time. Pollack and Smith are video guys. Pollack produces a weekly video show that airs on sunday nights and is available on YouTube and iTunes. Smith’s Smodcast Podcast network is a veritable treasure trove of creative online content.
Carolla’s been an advocate of podcasting, but he’s made no bones about the fact that the revenue wasn’t rushing through the door. I’m sure this deal offers him a better financial outlook. AOL meanwhile, sees the opportunity that popular content on iTunes can offer in terms of building a network. Their ability to offer a revenue solution to independent content creators is a win for them and the talent.
“We should be wherever our listeners are.” That’s the very simple premise that former MTV Exec Bob Pittman says Clear Channel is pursuing as he builds out their multi platform strategy. According to Pittman, Clear Channel already has a great strategy and systems in place, it is just a matter of rolling it all out.
Pittman says the listener doesn’t care about what device they are listening on, but they do care what they are listening to. He points out that Clear Channel’s got a large number of those brand loyal consumers. Whereas Google has about 175 million uniques on a monthly basis in the US, Clear Channel has over 200 million. Keeping them satisfied by offering them as many ways to listen as possible is the name of the game.
What about Pandora? Pittman sort of side steps that question, simply offering the stat that “only” about 4% of listening right now is to digital or online platforms, implying he’s not really concerned – yet.. He does point out that listening online “appears to be additive” meaning that listening online adds to total time spent listening to a station, which is of course a very good thing.
Pittman has put $5Million of his own money into Clear Channel, which makes him a credible spokesperson as well. Here’s the quick interview:
After a hiatus of a month or so and quickly on the heels of the release of August rankers, AndoMedia has released Webcast Metrics Internet radio audience data for September for its measured stations. Again, some data is missing due to a “log processing error.”
Average Active Sessions data is intact for all stations on the ranker. Pandora continues to lead the pack with now over 400,000 Average Active Sessions during the Monday-Sunday 6a-mid daypart. CBSRadio, including AOL and Yahoo’s streaming radio platforms, is next with Clear Channel following. Other broadcasters with streaming platforms that make the top ten are ESPNRadio, Entercom, Cox, Citadel, Cumulus and EMF. Slacker is the only online only brand that keeps Pandora company in the top ten.
Bonneville, at #15 on the ranker, has the highest Average Time Spent Listening of over three and a half hours per session.
Katz Online Network continues to be the only sales network represented on the ranker. Here’s the snapshot, you can see the entire press release here.
Highlighting the fact that listening to Internet radio Pureplay stations, or online only stations now represents more than 60% of domestic listening on its ranker, AndoMedia releases July data for the stations that it measures. Given that 14 of the top twenty on that ranker are broadcast companies that aggregate their station streams, and only 6 are Pureplay stations, this is a strong indication of the dominant share that online only stations have in the US streaming marketplace.
Online station Slacker debuts on the ranker, minus its mobile streaming data, at number 7 on the total week US ranker (below). That means it edges out independent online station Digitally Imported as the next highest ranked online station after Pandora. It’s important to note that Slacker was initially a mobile streaming station – they used to sell their own dedicated hardware for streaming before iPhone and other smartphones took over those capabilities. Their mobile number should be significant.
Pandora is now showing more than 3.5 times the average active sessions as the next listed station, which is CBSRadio’s network of stations, including all of their broadcast streams and AOL and Yahoo‘s online radio platforms, but does not include Last.fm. Pandora’s dominance is huge with over 250 million session starts during the month. It’s interesting to note that Slacker’s time spent listening number is double that of Pandora.
AndoMedia has released a new ranker for June 2010 which resolves an ongoing issue that had prevented some key online only (or pureplay) stations from being presented in their domestic ranker. Digitally Imported, 977Music, and 1.fm had previously shown up in the All Streams ranker, but due to some technical measurement issues AndoMedia was unable to report on their US only streams. This month those stations debut in the US based streams report as well, joining AccuRadio and Pandora for a total of five online stations in the listing of the top streaming stations or networks measured by AndoMedia.
Pandora, which sits prominently atop the ranker with more than three times the average number of streams per minute (AAS) than the next platform (which happens to be CBS Radio, including AOL and Yahoo’s streaming radio platforms). Thanks to Pandora, listening to online only stations exceeds listening to broadcast streams on the top twenty domestic ranker as well.
Another highlight from this monthly ranker is ESPNRadio’s number, which reflects a huge increase thanks to massive listening to streams of World Cup matches. The average number of domestic streams for that service leapt from 10,103 to 16,758.
AndoMedia has released its monthly ranker of listening estimates to Internet radio platforms that are measured by Webcast Metrics, which uses a proprietary platform to track audience data and convert it to audience metrics that can be easily understood by stations, publishers and advertisers.
For Domestic total week listening, Pandora’s audience continues to rank first, followed by CBSRadio’s online radio platform, which includes all its streaming broadcast stations as well as AOL and Yahoo Launchcast (but does not include CBSRadio-owned Last.fm). Clear Channel, Citadel, Entercom, Cox, EMF, ESPN and Radio One round out the top ten online radio platforms on the domestic ranker which counts only verified US based listening.
The All Streams ranker, which counts all listening to an online group or station’s streams, shows some stations that are not providing location verified listening data. Big online brands Digitally Imported, 977Music, 1.fm and AccuRadio push some broadcaster based platforms out of the top ten in this ranker.
AndoMedia points out that this month the average number of listening sessions, sessions started and time spent listening all increased. More info and the actual rankers are available here.