2010 was the year that Internet radio finally became a household word – although to many that word may have been “Pandora“. Pandora’s popularity on iPhone and other smartphones really took hold this year, listening became more commonplace and many other stations benefitted as well. Apple‘s introduction of iPad created more excitement for Internet radio apps, and car manufacturers got into the game as well. Here’s a synopsis of key stories from the second half of the year…
August – In August Bridge Ratings gave us more interesting data on Internet radio’s audience, using Nielsen’s PRIZM lifestyle groupings to establish listening patterns among certain lifestyle groups. Not surprisingly, it’s the young, urban, educated and trend setting groups that are fueling adoption of Internet radio in the US.
September – September brought some interesting data on mobile music listening. According to eMarketer, 21.7 million listen to mobile music now and that number will grow to more than 52 million by 2014. comScore had the number even higher, with info showing that 234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices during the 3 month average period ending in July, 2010 and close to 34 million (14.5%) of them listened to music on them.
October – In October I wrote that Pandora had recently announced that they had 65 million registered users, a number that increased 8% in three months. In the same post I noted recent words from Pandora’s Tim Westergren who pointed out that all of Internet radio is just 3% of radio listening right now while 90% is to broadcast radio. That, says Westergren, is where Pandora’s growth will come from.
November – In November Clear Channel announced a new partnership with Toyota to put their iheartradio streaming platform in cars, a first for broadcasters moving to work with car manufacturers to create streaming radio opportunities for their platforms in ways similar to Pandora/Ford. Live365 rolled out a new platform Athena 365, targeting women, and RadioTime put their tuner on Google TV.
December – In December we learned, from Coleman Insights, that some folks just prefer to listen online – of the 17% of the population that is streaming monthly, 48% say they don’t listen to any over the air radio. The report emphasized that listeners are not shunning AM/FM radio as much as choosing a preferred platform for listening, making it critical that broadcasters view all of their distribution technologies as equally important. There are indications that that is the case – BRS Media reported that more than 75% of broadcasters who featured Christmas music were doing so online.
In addition to lots of positive news and momentum, the industry as a whole began to shape up this year. RAIN Summits, the premiere educational and networking events for the industry, hosted several excellent events including a sold out event at the Radio Show in September. More people, more professionalism, more buzz – all good things for our burgeoning business.
Thanks for reading Audio4cast this year, I wish you a profitable and healthy 2011!
Last week Forrester Research released a new study Understanding the Changing Needs of the US Online Consumer 2010. It’s a deep survey that interviewed more than 30,000 US consumers about their media habits. Highlights include:
- High speed Internet connections are the norm, with 91% of the population connecting online through broadband.
- Time spend with TV and Internet are now equal. Americans spend an average of 13 hours per week on each. Time spent with the Internet is up 121% since 2005.
- Time spent with radio (not online), newspapers and magazines is dropping.
The study looked at a variety of online behavior and categorized certain activities as “mass appeal” or not. After email use, which has been adopted by 90+% of the population, shopping online is the most widely popular online activity – in 2007 about one-third of the population was doing so, by this 2010 study more than 60% of respondents shop online . Social networking is the next most popular activity reaching 62 million US Adults. Other activities such as blogging, listening to streaming audio, and IMing are engaging less than one third of the population and will never be mass appeal, according to the study.
Although the study also notes the growing popularity of Internet use with texting and email leading the list of popular activities. Interestingly, despite the fact that listening to music online was basically sidelined by the study as an activity that will never be mass appeal, this chart shows that mobile online listening to music doubled its audience 2007 to 2008 and again 2008 to 2009. Only social networking equaled that rapid growth.
In a recent study of the way US consumers get their news, radio beat out newspapers. 34% used radio as a source of news yesterday, according to a new study by Pew Research Center for People and the Press. That beats newspaper’s 31% and ties online news which is also a source of news 34% of the time. 58% of those surveyed said they got news from television yesterday.
These numbers are not exclusive, in fact only 9% of respondents used digital as an exclusive source of news. 36% said they use some combination of traditional (tv, newspapers, radio) and digital sources.
The fact that so many folks look to various types of media for news is good news for radio. Radio has a long tradition of providing both dependable top-of-the-hour news and immediate news bulletins. News, particularly during a storm or other crisis, is one of the building blocks that radio uses to develop a relationship with its audience.
Broadcasters should heed the fact that people are diversifying their sources of news and build compatible digital platforms that compliment existing news offerings. Email and social media like Twitter and Facebook can provide updates and alerts as well as enable audience feedback and sharing.
Nearly a third of British adults have listened to Internet radio, according to updated research from RAJAR, the official body in charge of measuring radio audiences in the UK. 16.3 million adults have listened either to live or time shifted streamed services.
RAJAR is jointly owned by the BBC and commercial radio companies. This updated information comes as part of MIDAS, Measurement of Internet Delivered Audio Services. Basically, commercial and non-commercial radio operators in the UK have teamed up to fund research that provides them with audience data, an approach that I think makes enormous sense for an industry that is witnessing the kind of platform segmentation that radio is.
Mobile listening has grown rapidly in the UK over the past year. 6.6 million persons 15+ have listened to Internet radio on a mobile device. Over a quarter of smartphone owners on the Midas survey (26% or 2.2 million adults) have downloaded a radio app and, of those, almost half (44%) use their radio apps at least once a week.
This Christmas season there are more stations streaming Christmas music than ever before. According to BRS Media there are more than 500 holiday stations available online. That number represents both pureplay/online stations as well as streaming broadcast stations.
This year nearly 75% of terrestrial radio stations featuring Christmas music are streaming online, that’s up from 60% in 2008 and up from only 35% in 2005. The total number of Christmas stations streaming has more then doubled in the past five years.
“It’s extremely exciting to see the growth in the number of Holiday stations webcasting online,” remarked George T. Bundy, Chairman & CEO of BRS Media Inc., “Internet Radio listeners are just one click away from hundreds of stations.. everything from Classic Standards & Smooth Jazz to Oldies & Country are all online.”
BRS Media’s Web-Radio is a portal destination where listeners can choose from a wide variety of programming. BRS Media launched the radio directory with two stations in the fall of 1995. Today, Web-Radio features nearly Twelve Thousand (12,000) radio station web sites, with over Nine Thousand (9,000) stations webcasting On-Line. Visitors can search for their favorite station by call letters, format, location and other criteria.
70 million Americans have listened to or watched a downloaded podcast, according to a recently updated report by Edison Research: The Current State of Podcasting. That’s 23% of the population, a number that’s increased just one percent from a year ago.
Awareness of podcasting is sitting steady at 45%, up just slightly from last year’s 43%. That’s not the kind of growth that inspires hope that the medium will spread like wildfire. Podcast listening and/or viewing just hasn’t gone mobile – 71% of people who listen to podcasts do so on their desktop and that number has actually increased from last year, according to the study.
So while cell phone usage has soared, podcasting usage has gotten stuck on the desktop, which is one possible explanation for the stagnant growth of the audience. Smartphone streaming has made downloading audio files for listening on mobile phones unnecessary.
It looks like streaming is taking a bite out of podcasting at this point. Online radio’s audience is 70 million monthly (Arbitron/Edison’s Infinite Dial Study).
Podcast consumers tend to be early adopters and social networkers, according to the study. They tend to respond to sponsor ads – 71% said they had visited a website because of an ad they had seen or heard in a podcast.
With wifi and 3G, and soon 4G access more readily available to consumers who want to stream and listen on demand, it’s looking more and more like podcasting is an interim audio technology that has limited long term audience growth because it’s replaceable by audio streaming.
A new report from Coleman Insights provides information on the amount of crossover there is between listening to AM/FM and listening online. About half of the streaming population in the US doesn’t listen to AM/FM radio at all. Of the 17% of the population that is streaming monthly, 48% say they don’t listen to any over the air radio.
It’s worse with younger demographics and with males: 57% of 15- to 24-year-olds and 59% of 25- to 34-year-olds do not listen to any “over the air” radio. 54% of male streamers use no over the air radio while 42% of female streamers report no usage of broadcast signals.
Minorities are likely to have replaced over the air listening with streaming as well – Sixty-seven (67%) of African American streamers listen to no over the air radio.
The same folks that are spending more time streaming and less time listening over the air say they have a positive attitude toward over the air radio, and they also say they are listening to AM/FM stations online. This leads to the conclusion that “Streamers who no longer listen to “over the air” broadcasts do not hate radio. They share the same moderately positive attitude toward the medium as other streamers. They simply have gravitated toward a different delivery method.”
In terms of understanding what a site or platform’s business model or reason for being is, Shoutcast has always puzzled me. Shoutcast is one of the largest portals to Internet radio stations in the world. Owned by AOL and powered by Nullsoft streaming software, Shoutcast is a platform that either originates or redistributes audio streams. The Shoutcast directory has over 40,000 different stations or channels listed. comScore pegs their site traffic at 59 million a month. That’s like in Pandora‘s league.
It’s pretty darn big. On a wednesday afternoon they have over 860,000 people streaming off of the platform.
But it’s never been easy to understand their business model. For years, certain stations enjoyed free bandwidth from Shoutcast and never had to give a thing in return. A glance at the site reveals little in the way of advertising. And a few years ago, AOL handed control of their Radio@AOL platform to CBSRadio to better develop and monetize, and just left Shoutcast alone.
The app offers the first of its kind wireless sync between a desktop computer and a mobile device. It also enables you to search, favorite and listen to all the stations on the platform, get artist info and pause your playlist. It integrates scrobbling, Last.fm’s (owned by CBSRadio) music sharing technology.
Reportedly, this is an example of AOL executing on its strategy to create more engaging and helpful content experiences for its users. And put a little competition up for iTunes. “As the number two digital music management application worldwide, Winamp is uniquely positioned to be the go-to service for users on this new platform,” said Kerry Trainor, AOL’s SVP of Entertainment. “At a time when consumers are embracing Android mobile devices, AOL is innovating to meet that consumer demand.”
Yeah well, maybe the sleeping giant is awakening?
A new financial report released by Last.fm in the UK indicates that they lost £2.84 million in 2009, which amounts to somewhere around -$4.4million. Add that number to the $280 million that CBSRADIO paid for Last.fm as a purchase price. 2009 revenues were £7.28 million, of which 74% was from ad sales, 18% from subscriptions and 8% from affiliate sales. Geographically, 55% of Last.fm’s revenue came from the UK, 33.5% from the US, and most of the remainder from other European countries. CBS has trimmed expenses at Last.fm substantially from the more than $13 million pounds they spent in 2008, by reducing the number of employees and revising the platform toward less and then no on demand streaming.
Spotify, the on-demand streaming service that has taken Europe by storm but has yet to enter the US market, filed a report indicating that they lost over £16 million last year, making the Last.fm operation look not so bad. Spotify’s revenues were £11.89 million in 2009, and revenue was split between ad sales (40%) and subscriptions (60%). Spotify has more than 7 million registered users, 250,000 of which are paying a subscription, which translates to a 3.5% conversion rate from free to subscription based listening.