This week the Boston Herald, one of two major newspapers in the city, announced that they will launch a new Internet radio station. Boston Herald radio will offer 12 hours of live local talk programming every day, featuring veteran local talk show hosts. In addition, all shows will be archived and available 24/7.
Boston has become a hotbed of live locally produced Internet radio.
Just about a year ago, we saw Boston.com, owned by the Boston Globe, launch RadioBDC, an alternative music format station, after Clear Channel flipped a format and fired the on-air staff ofWFNX. RadioBDC picked up the pieces and began streaming it online instead. The new Boston Herald Radio will enter to compete in an already healthy talk radio market where Entercom and CBSown strong talk stations with long heritages. Which you might see as stiff competition, or you might see it as an indication that Boston’s a market that likes to listen to talk programming.
So now Boston’s two major newspapers have both tuned in to the fact that Internet radio is where it’s at. “Internet radio is exploding and it makes sense that the Herald rounds out our multimedia platform with talk radio programming. It’s perfect synergy,” said Boston Herald President and Publisher Patrick Purcell.
I couldn’t agree more. Last spring, Boston witnessed a remarkable thing in the search for the Boston bomber. They shut the entire city down and launched a manhunt the likes of which has never happened before. Residents sat in their homes, searching for and sharing information online about the progress of the search, along with the rest of the country. They watched television and listened to radio as well, but they connected online. If you’re running a large newsroom at a major newspaper in the city, it makes perfect sense that you would want to use that newsroom to power a piece of that conversation as well, doesn’t it?
I can’t wait to see what happens next..
Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio has added an interactive platform for talk radio to its offering. The newly announced iHeartRadio Talk will feature on-demand listener-created talk content alongside popular news, celebrity and entertainment “audiosodes.”
“Listeners who have been accepted into the iHeartRadio Talk library will be able to record and instantly share their perspective on any topic they choose – it’s basically like offering ‘audio Twitter.'” said Brian Lakamp, President of Digital, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, “We are giving a voice to the everyman, and at the same time are enabling iHeartRadio users to discover and enjoy thousands of ‘audiosodes’ from the best talent around the country.”
Through a partnership with Spreaker, a platform that enables listeners to create personal radio broadcasts, iHeartRadio will also feature user generated content. iHeartRadio Talk will offer “Daily Pulse,” a customizable Talk channel featuring the most up-to-date news and culture highlights, which allows users to add content that is most important to them. The service will also enable listeners to search for their favorite talk programming from ABC News, American Public Media, TMZ, the Wall Street Journal and others, not to mention Clear Channel’s own featured talk show hosts like Ryan Seacrest, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others. Local news weather and traffic reports can also be integrated into the offerings.
Adding talk programming and user generated content to the iHeartRadio platform greatly expands the offering and is a nod to several popular platforms like Stitcher, SoundCloud, and even NPR, which has a huge talk presence online. It’s a smart move for iHeart that greatly expands their service and probably makes them a more interesting standalone platform for dashboard integration as well – something that I’m sure was part of the plan..
The latest release of music sales figures by Nielsen and Billboard is surprising – digital song sales, which had been on an upward trajectory, seem to have taken a turn. Sales of albums and tracks, which grew 4% last year were down 4.6% for the same six month period.
At the same time, streaming volume is soaring, up 24% over last year, telling the full story behind the dip in digital song sales. The fact is, consumer attitudes toward ownership of music are changing. Streaming access to songs through services like Spotify are making it more attractive to subscribe to services to have access to the music you want to hear.
One of the remarkable things to note about this report is the wide disparity between the Top Ten Streamed Songs and the Top Ten Most Played Radio Songs. Seven of the songs on Radio’s top ten list are not on the Streaming top ten. So when folks are given the option to stream a song and hear whatever they want, they’re choosing a playlist that is 70% different than the one their favorite radio station is choosing for them.
There’s a lot of talk about research that shows that listening to broadcast is not being replaced by listening online. And that may be true. But it may also be true that there’s a new order driving the popularity of songs and artists, and broadcast radio would do well to recognize that.
Pandora will be installed in one-third of the new cars sold this year, which represents an impressive effort on the part of the leading Internet radio station in the US. That fact appeared in wsj.com recently. Pandora’s strategy of gaining automotive deals also gets them lots of listeners – Pandora says they have seen more than 2.5 million unique activations through integrations from the 23 major automotive brands and eight aftermarket manufacturers they are installed with.
Meanwhile, the popularity of streaming and the connected dashboard is not being overlooked by Sirius XM. Despite deals that already have their satellite service installed in a long list of vehicles, Sirius XM has been improving its streaming offering of late, and just announced a deal with Ford that will pair both its satellite and online radio offerings in new Ford cars with Sync AppLink.
Smaller Internet radio stations that don’t have the brand power to create their own automotive deals have options as well. Harman’s Aha Radio and TuneIn are two aggregators that have deals with car manufacturers to offer access to a wide variety of content through their platforms, and Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio has announced deals with Toyota, GM and Chrysler.
While market leaders like Pandora and Sirius XM make deals that put them front and center in your next new car, the truth is the dashboard of that car will probably have a unit installed that will enable you to access any content you want. At the Connected Car Conference during CE Week in New York recently, Audiovox President Tom Malone discussed the automotive aftermarket products his company is bringing to market, which are all about letting the consumer bring whatever content they want into the car. Solutions that enable the consumer to connect to their content wirelessly through a variety of options – smartphone, usb, cellular, and stored content in the car, for example – are the focus now. Connected car discussions are about more than just the dashboards these days too. Today’s consumers share listening less, and personalized content solutions are coming to the car as well, with rear seat docking solutions.
Content delivery to cars is diversifying, putting the consumer in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing what they will listen to. Receivers that are dedicated purely to AM/FM or satellite are quickly becoming a thing of the past, replaced with devices that enable easy access and endless choice. In a way, you could say that it’s a game in which content is king…
In North America, mobile advertising revenues grew 111% from 2011 to 2012, while at the same time netting 83% growth globally. Growth in Asia just slightly outpaced North America during the same period. Contributing factors to the growth are easy to identify – widespread smartphone adoption and more time spent on mobile devices, along with increasingly better monetization of mobile ad services.
Mobile ad services are figuring out better ways to optimize the advertising experience for advertisers. This is obviously the key to growing revenue. Something that Apple understands, as they are about to launch iTunes Radio as an ad supported platform. So here’s what I would do if I were in charge of monetizing that platform.
- iTunes has 500 million users across the globe. Those users are mobile, and they like to consume content, mostly music. But over the past few years they have decided that they don’t have to own that music, they’re happy to stream it instead.
- iTunes also has lots of information on those users – who they are, where they live, what devices they use, how old they are, and what they like to watch and listen to. That’s the stuff that advertisers really want. But that’s not the holy grail.
- iTunes has a credit card on file for all those users. Because they buy songs, video and apps from the ITunes store already. So if you are an advertiser, and you are selling something online, how would you like to sell it in Apple’s store, where users can purchase it with just one click? Sure, you’ll pay them something for that, but it’ll be worth it because it makes it so easy for the customer.
That’s how I think Apple could revolutionize mobile ad monetization…
iTunes now has 500 million users worldwide who spend approximately $40 a year on content, according to analysis produced by Horace Dediu of Asymco. Apple users meanwhile spend about $1 a day per device on content, meaning that each time Apple sells a device they can count on 11% annually from that device/user.
Music download sales from the iTunes store are declining however, while other content – mainly apps, are taking a larger share of user dollars. The main reason for this is that 5 years ago, most folks were just getting their first smartphone, and were actively using a device called an iPod to carry around their music. Remember those days, when you bought music and updated your iPod all the time, plugged it in to your car, listened to it while exercising? Now, you use your smartphone and connect to Pandora instead, right? (Or Spotify, iHeart, or whatever).
Yep, no doubt the iPhone had an impact on iPod sales as well as song sales, and very soon iRadio will have further impact. Apple is not afraid to look into the crystal ball, see the future, and cannibalize one product with the next big one. And a few years back they saw the Pandora app take off like wildfire in their very own iTunes app store as every new user downloaded the app onto their phone, and they decided that they had better get into the streaming game. Are you as willing to cannibalize your comfort zone in the face of future trends?