Last week was a busy week for Internet radio. Clear Channel shook things up at the beginning of the week with their announcement of the coming “New iHeartRadio”, later in the week Spotify launched its US based service. While I think Spotify’s entrance here is interesting, I don’t think it will have an enormous impact on free streaming radio options.
Spotify’s on-demand service is more competitive with other highly interactive services that are looking to replace personal listening collections. Those include services like MOG, rdio and Rhapsody. Cloud based services that allow a listener to sync their own music files and stream from multiple devices are a competitor to on-demand services as well. Premium Internet radio services, such as Pandora One and Slacker’s premium ad-free option may also be affected, as I think they will compete for the same dollars.
More than 2/3’s of Internet users here in the US have paid for digital/online content already, according to The Pew Internet and American Life Project, 1/3 have paid for digital music online. That information validates the consumer subscription model. But how many different services will the consumer pay for? Probably not more than one or two.
In addition to all the streaming on-demand services competing for digital dollars, there are subscription based podcasts such as Adam Carolla, Bubba The Love Sponge and others. In fact, I think Sirius XM, with its monthly subscription fee, is ultimately competing for the same monthly listening subscription dollars.
The arrival of Spotify, long heralded by themselves, has been anticipated by industry watchers aware of their large listening share in Europe. But the general public is largely unaware of them so far. Interest in earlier Euro based services has been weak – GOOM Radio launched and quickly fizzled, and UK born Last.fm, which CBSRADIO picked up a few years back, has not been able to build a massive following.
It’s an interesting case study from the get go, one that I’m looking forward to tracking..
It was bound to happen. Adam Carolla, whose standalone podcast project consistently ranks multiple shows in the iTunes top ten audio podcasts, will join a late night video block of programming on AOL that will, no doubt, extend his reach and build his brand while contributing to increased audience and revenue for them as well.
Last week AOL announced a new late night video block of programming featuring content from “The Adam Carolla Show,” ”Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show,” and Kevin Smith’s SModcast Network. Fans will be able to both hear and see the best moments from these popular podcasts and talk shows on a nightly basis exclusively on AOL.com.
This move will feature weekly highlights from ACE Broadcasting’s “The Adam Carolla Show,” where the celebrated author of the bestselling In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks interviews celebrities, athletes and other persons of note. That programming will be paired with highlights from Kevin Smith’s Smodcast Podcast network, and Kevin Pollack’s weekly video show Kevin Pollack’s Chat Show.
Carolla, Pollack and Smith will each maintain their own online presence and continue producing their programming. AOL will feature highlights, and no doubt extend their reach. When I checked, Carolla had 3 podcast shows in the top ten audio podcasts on iTunes, with another at number 11. His show has seen over 50 million downloads, making him the most popular audio podcast of all time. Pollack and Smith are video guys. Pollack produces a weekly video show that airs on sunday nights and is available on YouTube and iTunes. Smith’s Smodcast Podcast network is a veritable treasure trove of creative online content.
Carolla’s been an advocate of podcasting, but he’s made no bones about the fact that the revenue wasn’t rushing through the door. I’m sure this deal offers him a better financial outlook. AOL meanwhile, sees the opportunity that popular content on iTunes can offer in terms of building a network. Their ability to offer a revenue solution to independent content creators is a win for them and the talent.
According to Arbitron/Edison’s Infinite Dial Study, 32 million Americans or 12% of the 12+ population have listened to a podcast in the past month, and while that number is up only slightly from the year before, industry folks like Wizzard are seeing steady growth and growing interest from advertisers.
Big personalities definitely help. Especially when they’re as appealing as Carolla is in this interview with WebProNews. He jokes about how he got into podcasting (His great great grandfather was a podcaster). He says he’s flattered to be a pioneer, but wonders how you can revolutionize something that’s been around for 11 minutes?
Carolla says it’s challenging, especially trying to get ad dollars (it’s like trying to get people to eat ostrich meat – it may taste great and be really good for you but new ideas are hard to sell.)
Carolla is charming and accessible and happy to be the poster child for the podcasting industry. I suspect he’ll be streaming programming on demand soon as well.
Podcast network Wizzard Media reports that 3rd quarter was a record breaking one for them, with 445 million podcasts downloaded in the 3 months. Wizzard provides hosting, ad serving tools, measurement and monetization services to more than15,000 podcast shows. Most of that is episodic programming, so the actual number of available podcast shows for download is well over a million.
The record breaking traffic came in the summer months, when listening generally slows. “We attribute this surge to the continued success of Apple’s products, the expansion of Wizzard’s App product and the growth of the audience that has access to podcasts via iTunes.” said Chris Spencer, Wizzard Media CEO.
In fact, 65% of the podcasts they host are downloaded via iTunes, while other Zune and Blackberry are the other major vehicles. In addition, Wizzard offers an embeddable player that makes it easy for listeners to download podcasts directly.
They’re in the business of helping people make a business out of podcasting – Wizzard sells podcast hosting and ad serving solutions to content providers and also offers them revenue sharing opportunities.
So what are people listening to? Top podcasts on the network include Adam Carolla, English as a Second Language Podcast, Learn French, Smodcast, Joe Rogan, Mark Maron and Grammergirl. Education, music and comedy genres dominate the top 20. Top shows are seeing millions of downloads a month.
Ad sales are mostly based on cpms and range, according to Rob Walch, VP Podcaster Relations from $2 for remnant to $45-$50 for certain programs (Wow!) Their advertiser list includes Ford, Coca-cola, Amazon owned Audible, Subway, Netflix, JC Penney and others. Wizzard uses Nielsen Net Ratings for 3rd party verification of ad impressions, an important piece for agency sales.
Podcasting is growing at Wizzard Media – they’ve watched downloaded podcasts move from 1.1 billion in 08 to 1.4 billion in 09 to 1.8 billion (approx) this year. What’s not to like about that?
It happens – radio stations change formats and suddenly popular personalities are out of a job. And Arbitron’s new PPM audience measurement technology has caused station owners to take a harsh look at what’s working and what’s not. But that’s not all bad for several displaced radio personalities who have found that podcasting is a great way to reconnect with their audience directly.
Early last year CBSRadio changed the format of LA’s KSLX to all hits, and radio personality Adam Carolla was out of a job. By March, he was producing shows for downloads and making the top ten on iTunes. And in September he announced a partnership with CBSRADIO that had them promoting the show, handling ad sales and letting Carolla program his own Web radio station.
In Chicago CBSRadio took Steve Dahl off the air, following some format shifts in that market. Not long later, he was producing daily podcasts, this time in partnership with CBSRadio from the get-go.
Now we have displaced DC dj Mike O’Meara, who lost his gig at CBSRADIO owned WJFK when they switched programming to Sports Talk, and is generating 15,000 downloads a day with his weekday show. (Which doesn’t involve CBSRADIO apparently)
It turns out, personality driven radio makes for perfect podcast content. Radio personalities have fans and followers with strong affinities for their shows, which means they’ll go to the extra effort to subscribe, download and listen loyally. Personality driven podcasts are a nice enhancement for radio broadcasters to offer their listeners. The nature of podcasting means those listeners are registered, so it’s easy to target ads to them, and they’re engaged and loyal, which makes them very appealing consumers for advertisers.
As radio stations begin to understand that their broadcast is simply one distribution channel for their content, more and more will create ways to extend relationships with long time radio personalities, even if they’re off the broadcast dial. Podcasts are a good place to start.
Um, Mr. O’Meara? CBSRADIO called while you were out…