After announcing that they were going to stop streaming their broadcast content in smaller markets earlier this summer, Saga Communications is now announcing that they will move to complete simulcasts of their over the air broadcasts – including commercials – on the streams of all their stations. In extensive coverage of this story this morning in Inside Radio, Saga EVP Warren Lada says that the size of the streaming audiences of his stations is too small to be sold separately.
“I was uncomfortable with it because I don’t believe we are doing a service to our advertisers when we tell them that they’re going to get meaningful results from a relatively miniscule audience on a station’s internet stream — that’s disingenuous and not good for the industry,” Lada says. “It’s time for the industry to man up and recognize that primarily most of our audience is on-air and we should just include the stream with it — it’s just part of what we do.”
Other folks disagree — Triton Digital COO Mike Agovino, Targetspot CEO Eyal Goldwerger and Katz360 President Brian Benedik pointed to the higher value of trackable, targeted impressions as good reasons not to abandon efforts to sell digital ads.
Another factor that likely contributed to Saga’s decision is Arbitron’s stance on measuring a station’s streaming stations – unless they are 100% simulcast of the broadcast they cannot be merged.
Saga has long been a skeptic of streaming, finding it difficult to justify the expense and measure the value of it. Like many small market broadcasters, they don’t have a lot of resources to dedicate to growing the online future of radio without seeing any revenue benefits. And what’s to stop them from reversing this position somewhere down the line? The reality is that simulcasts with inserted online ads, as Lada points out, don’t make for great listening. And building expanded online offerings that would attract more audience takes investment. So the question remains – is streaming an opportunity or an expense?