SNL Kagan and Senior Analyst Robin Flynn have produced a 2011 report on the Economics of Internet Music and Radio that’s very comprehensive and insightful. Using existing data points from RAB’s quarterly revenue reports, publicly available financials on Pandora, and research from Triton Digital and Arbitron on audience, SNL Kagan provides an excellent summary of the marketplace and its players, both online only and radio broadcasters.
Digital/online ad revenue will become an increasingly important and larger portion of radio’s revenues. The report pegs annual revenue for 2011 attributable to digital/online, including website, streaming, hd, and other digital sources, at $713 million for 2011. That number will grow to $1.55 billion in 2021 and comprise 7% of radio’s overall revenues.
Internet only stations will grow revenue at a faster rate – coming from $293 million projected annual revenues in 2011, that number will be $365 million in 2012 but reach $1 billion in 2021. Those projections are based only on ad revenues and do not include revenue from subscription or song download sales.
Pandora’s IPO has provided insight to the business model for an Internet radio station, and it’s a challenging one thanks to the enormous share of revenues that are owed in royalties. SoundExchange takes 45% of Pandora’s revenues and leaves them still losing money after ten years. The report quotes several radio broadcast company CEOs discussing the expense of streaming thanks to those issues as well. But most agree it’s a channel that they can’t afford to ignore.
Internet radio’s audience is growing, and connected devices are expanding the audience and time spent listening. Optimizing cpms for targeted mobile ads is a critical piece for Pandora in overcoming the digital royalty expense. Interestingly, SNL Kagan has projected that Pandora will take 4% of 2011 mobile ad revenues in the US, ranking fifth behind Google, Apple, Yahoo and Twitter.