The most recent ratings related press release from Pandora arrived this week, touting that “National audience metrics for June 2012 show that among the adult 18-49 demographic (demo), Pandora has a weekly cume of 25,333,249″ – up 6% from March Webcast Metrics audience data. But here’s the big news, straight from the announcement:
The June 2012 Triton Webcast Metrics ratings rank Pandora as the largest adult 18-49 radio network in the U.S. when compared to radio networks in the Arbitron June 2012 RADAR 113 report.”
Pandora now provides monthly AQH and Cume ratings in three key demos in the top ten markets, something which has gone a long way in helping them gain favor with ad agencies. Pandora Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble said, ” These metrics are helping the radio advertising industry make informed buying decisions between terrestrial and internet radio.”
You got that right. Starcom Executive Vice President of Local Activation Kevin Gallagher said, “It’s no secret that an increasing amount of audio is consumed online. With Triton Webcast Metrics ratings, we will be able to compare, as well as combine, audience delivery within the entire audio ecosystem. It’s important to provide advertisers with a holistic view of the entire radio audience to help them understand the internet radio opportunity and value proposition.”
It’s what the agencies want, numbers that make it easy to compare, analyze and make informed buying decisions. Pandora’s offering it on a silver platter and the agencies are eating it up..
Triton released new audience data this week and the most interesting thing on the ranker is the fact that Clear Channel’s streaming platform is beginning to pick up steam, with stats growing 7% from April to May.
As RAIN points out in their analysis yesterday afternoon, Pandora‘s number grew about 4% from April to May, which could be an indicator of slowing in terms of their exponential growth. With more than a billion session starts and close to a million active sessions during the month, their market share is massive. Clear Channel’s growing active session number is approaching just 15% of Pandora’s number.
One thing that can continue to drive Clear Channel’s growth is their ability to brand iHeartRadio throughout their media empire. The deals that they have signed with other broadcast companies also drive listener registration for the iHeartRadio platform. Once registered, those listeners to Cox, Greater Media, Cumulus, or other partner stations in the platform, can easily be converted to listeners to iHeartRadio. Recently introduced features such as artist curated channels, personalized listening options, and social offerings are helping to drive both sampling and listening to iHeartRadio.
Here’s the ranker:
Spotify has moved to offer its mobile streaming options, previously locked down under a monthly subscription, free to listeners. In an obvious response to the exponential growth that Pandora has experienced in mobile listening, Spotify will now feature “free mobile radio – Spotify style”.
The offerings feature the ability to create a station from a song, artist or genre and unlimited listening. Calling it the only free radio that you can save, Spotify mobile offers interactive options to like or dislike a song to influence your station or save the song to a playlist. Until now, it cost ten bucks to get all that on your mobile devices.
It sounds like a good offering, one I’ll bet Spotify wishes they had jumped on a little earlier. Pandora, with 150 million registered users and direct connections on lots of dashboards and tuner devices, has had a handy headstart. This move by Spotify is recognition of the impact that a popular free app in the iPhone and iPad app stores can make.
Free users in the US will hear advertisements from the following launch partners: Chevrolet, Durex, Heineken, Red Stag by Jim Beam, Lipton Iced Tea, Macy’s, McDonalds, Progressive, Red Bull, Taco Bell, Verizon Wireless, and Warner Bros – all of which are current Spotify advertisers.
As for Pandora, I suspect they knew it was only a matter of time before Spotify moved to pick up a piece of all that mobile listening to Pandora for free. They may even welcome the fact that Spotify will now join in their efforts to monetize mobile streaming ads…
Pandora now has more than 150 million registered users, and more than two thirds of that number has listened on a smartphone or tablet. More than 70 percent of all listening to Pandora occurs on a mobile device.
To that end, mobile revenues grew from $25 million in 2011 to $100 million in 2012 for the most listened to online radio platform in the US. That puts them second only to Google in terms of mobile advertising revenues, according to a recent press release. This is a good response from Pandora to Wall Street analysts who have been skeptical of the company’s ability to monetize its mobile ad inventory.
Pandora also noted that they are now included in the dashboard of 48 models of cars, and have partnerships with 25 brands of autos and auto aftermarket devices.
Pandora’s mobile strategy has been a key component of their growth – they were early into the iTunes app store and experienced enormous popularity from the beginning that continues today as a mobile platform. With more than 70% of their listening occurring on mobile, their ability to monetize that listening is critical. $100 million sounds like they are on the right path..
It’s been a strong news week for Pandora, which is not unusual – the service has a great strategy for maintaining visibility in the media. That’s good for their brand and all of Internet radio by-the-way.
They recently released some new data from a study done by The Media Audit surveying 54,000 people in Los Angeles about their radio listening affinities. As reported in the LA Times, “Pandora beat out local stations such as KIIS-FM, KNX-AM4, KROQ-FM5 and KOST-FM in the survey of 54,000 adults who were asked in the biennial phone poll, in October, what stations they had listened to in the previous week.” In fact, “The research group estimated that 1.9-million people in Los Angeles listened to Pandora between September and October of 2011. The No. 2 station, KIIS-FM, garnered 1.4-million listeners in the same time frame, according to the survey.”
This caused the Huffington Post to headline an article with the proclamation that Pandora is the Number One Radio Station in LA. I’m sure the folks at Pandora were very happy about that.
Meanwhile, Inside Radio, a publication owned by Clear Channel which owns Pandora competitor iHeartRadio, was busy covering a story about more research on Pandora’s listeners. Mark Kassoff and Company, a radio programming research company, surveyed 1,177 Pandora listeners, asking them just what they like so much about the service. Their conclusion? Pandora listeners are control freaks. And that’s the headline that Inside Radio chose for their coverage of the info.
Now, despite the headline, the Kassoff data is actually pretty good – revealing to those that read past the opening sentence that people like the personalizable options that Pandora gives to listeners. Kassoff goes on to examine in his survey the ways that Pandora and FM are different, and encourage broadcasters to focus on those differences. Which is a great conclusion for his study..
Robin Flynn of SNL Kagan hosted a panel discussion called “Charting Digital Audio Ad Dollars” at RAIN Summit West on April 15th. Advertising is on the upsurge, she concludes, and cpms are solid.
Pandora SVP of ad sales Steven Kritzman, Katz Online President Brian Benedik, Spotify VP of ad sales Jon Mitchell and Alexis Van de Wyer, President of Adswizz, Inc. were the panelists contributing to the panel hosted by Flynn.
There is a healthy interest in advertising on Internet radio, and the cpms are getting stronger. Contributing to the interest is Internet radio’s ability to deliver key groups such as 18-34 year olds, Hispanics and upper income groups. Advertisers from many leading categories are now active in Internet radio, including finance and entertainment along with auto, restaurant and retail. Mitchell said that Spotify has 1,400 different advertisers.
Nonetheless, audio ads continue to be under monetized. Campaigns that include video in the mix with audio will produce a higher cpm overall, but targeted local campaigns are also pulling higher cpms. Benedik estimated that while generally network radio CPMs are $4 to $6, he said that geo-targeted campaigns can boost CPMs to $6 to $12.
Local advertising is gaining interest on Internet radio, led by the precise targeting abilities of Pandora. Thanks to listener registration, platforms like Pandora and Spotify can target by listener demographics, geographics, or taste in music. Benedik is looking for local revenues from political campaigns this year to be healthy.
The group acknowledged that monetizing audio effectively remains a challenge. Flynn notes: “Given that 70% of Pandora’s listeners listen on a mobile device, Kritzman said, the company is working hard to better monetize those listeners. Pandora execs have recently said the company’s RPMs, or revenue per 1,000 listening hours, are $60 to $70 for its desktop Internet business versus $20 for the mobile side, but mobile is expected to catch up.”
The following is a guest post by Angus MacDonald, General Counsel, Live365:
A few days ago, SoundExchange publicly released its Annual Report (Draft) for 2011. According to the report, SoundExchange’s 2011 collections from ALL statutory services amounted to $371.9 million. See SX’s Annual Report, p.7 (“In 2011, SoundExchange collected statutory royalties from all statutory classes of services in the amount of $371,922,621.”). That’s an increase of 40% ($106M) in collections compared with the previous year – i.e., $265.9M in 2010 vs. $371.9M in 2011.
Impressive increase. However, as discussed below, Pandora accounts for most (over 70%) of that growth. In its most recent 10-K filing (released about 3 weeks ago) for the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, 2012, Pandora paid 49.7% of its revenues to SoundExchange. See Pandora’s 10-K , p.20 (“For our fiscal year ended January 31, 2012 we incurred SoundExchange related content acquisition costs representing 49.7% of our total revenue for that period.”).
Using the 49.7% figure (along with Pandora’s recently-reported revenue of $274.3M for its last fiscal year) means that Pandora paid $136,346,980 to SoundExchange in the 12 months that ended Jan. 31, 2012. That $136.3M figure represents 36.66% of SoundExchange’s total revenues ($371.9M) collected in CY2011. [NOTE: For the purposes of this exercise, I'm comparing Pandora's FISCAL year (Feb. 1, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2012) to SoundExchange's 2011 CALENDAR year, even though it's not entirely apples-to-apples.]
That 36.66% figure certainly would be much higher – well over 50%, I’d safely bet – if you look only at SX’s Internet-radio revenues, which are NOT separately broken out in SX’s Annual Report. [As many of you know, SoundExchange collects statutory royalties from many different types of services – including noninteractive Internet radio (Pandora, etc.), satellite (Sirius XM), cable subscription services (Music Choice), and business establishment services (DMX).]
Pandora’s royalty payments to SoundExchange more than doubled year-over-year – $61.99M in FY2011 vs. $136.35 in FY2012. That $74.35M increase in royalties paid by Pandora accounts for MOST – i.e., over 70% – of SoundExchange’s increased revenues ($106M increase) for 2011.
Another interesting factoid: Pandora paid about as much in royalties for its FY 2012 (i.e., $136.3M) as it made in TOTAL REVENUES for its previous fiscal year, FY 2011 ($137.7M).
My own editorial: With Pandora’s ever-growing listening hours and royalty payments, SoundExchange and the labels need a healthy Pandora as much as Pandora needs a reasonable Pureplay-like rate for the next royalty term (2016-2020). This is especially true if Sirius XM continues to sign up more direct license deals, thereby bypassing SoundExchange (though Sirius XM’s recent antitrust complaint suggests that may be a tough row to hoe).
There are several other semi-interesting tidbits from SoundExchange’s Annual Report, including its mini-hiring binge in 2011 (55 employees in 2010 vs. 72 employees in 2011) – which was probably necessary to handle all of the additional royalties from Pandora!
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:
Pandora released audience data today showing that they have grown their audience by 50% or more in top markets across the country in the past year. Releasing data that compares January’s audience stats with “holiday 2011″ stats, Pandora now claims to have a 1.0 rating with Adults 18-34 in top markets across the country.
The report uses audience information provided by Pandora and analyzed by Edison Research using methodology that resembles that used by Arbitron, however, they make no specific comparisons to Arbitron’s reports or other stations in their press release. Releasing audience data in this form enables advertisers and agencies to assimilate Pandora’s audience reach with traditional broadcast radio stations’ reach. This assimilation of data and direct comparison to broadcast audience data is precisely the kind of thing that some broadcasters are trying to prevent.
It’s a powerful statement about Pandora’s popularity that they are able to deliver a 1.0 rating in all of the top ten markets in the US with Adults 18-34. You can read the press release here.
Last year was quite a year for Internet radio and related streaming music services, and judging from some of the end of the year activity, this year should be lots of fun as well. I took the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, so here’s my just-a-little-late 2011 recap, summed up in what I think were the stories of the year.
1. Pandora went public. They raised $234.9 million in their public offering in June, selling 14.7 million shares at $16. The stock has struggled to regain that kind of price since then, but the service continues to gain listeners, ending the year with well over 100 million registered listeners.
2. Spotify launched in the US. While they would have liked to get their ducks in a row and have launched before Pandora’s public offering, Spotify did launch in July. Europe’s most popular streaming service began serving US listeners and gaining great attention with mobile apps, on-demand and programmed offerings.
3. Facebook made friends with streaming platforms. In September at its f8 developer conference, facebook announced that it would integrate third party streaming music apps into its platform, opening up the gates for those services to gain listeners as folks listen and like songs and share them with their network of friends.
4. iHeartradio revamped and relaunched. The all new iHeartradio includes all the streams offered online by Clear Channel stations as well as streaming channels. Other broadcasters are offering their programming through the platform as well – including Univision, Cumulus/Citadel/ABC, and EMF. These changes signal Clear Channel’s intention that iHeartradio become a portal to streaming broadcast stations.
5. Digital trendspotter and investment analyst Mary Meeker predicts that online audio is the next big thing.
Those are the five things that I think were the biggest stories in online radio in 2011. I think the real story is a combination of all of them – an investment friendly marketplace with increasing competition and opportunities. What do you think?..