Jacobs Media: Pandora’s A Threat To Broadcasters

In the Internet radio game, Pandora’s the one to beat. So says Jacobs Media’s new Tech Survey of 26,000 rock radio listeners in the US. According to Fred Jacobs, President of Jacobs Media, Pandora is “a threat to terrestrial radio.”

The study finds that within the pool of surveyed people who listen to Internet radio, 37% tune in Pandora. 43% of Pandora listeners are tuning in more often, meaning the service has momentum as well (15% are listening less). More than half of Pandora listeners like it more than terrestrial radio while only 5% like it less.

While many Pandora listeners had no complaints (37%), some listeners did. Gripes about the service included not allowing them to skip enough songs (hardly a complaint that terrestrial stations can take to heart). But one out of every five listeners also misses hearing real people and local info – something that terrestrial stations should take note of.

Pandora is emerging as the leader in the online music game in much the same way that Facebook and YouTube have dominated their spaces, says Jacobs. It’s true – at least in the US, which is the only place that listeners can hear Pandora. In other parts of the world, services like Spotify have had lots of time to build their brands. Facebook and YouTube both have global audiences.

With the new Facebook Open Graph feature, lots more listeners will be hearing about Pandora – earlier this week I noted that their integration into Facebook will be much bigger than the iPhone was for helping them to build awareness. But Facebook’s 400 million users are spread out all over the world. I’m guessing it won’t take long for Pandora to open up streams to folks in other parts of the world as well.

So what does this all mean for streaming broadcasters and smaller online stations? In addition to building their brand, Pandora is building awareness and fondness for Internet radio and connected listening. They’ve done more to build audience for Internet radio than anyone else, both on a desktop and even more so on mobile devices. They’re the face of Internet radio – as I said early and say often, they are the Kleenex of the industry. There’s plenty of ways for other services to focus on their audience and develop best ways to give them what they want. As a brand leader, Pandora is a good service. Others should sharpen their swords and aspire to make their offerings as popular with their own audiences…

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