Tag Archives: broadcasters

2010 Infinite Dial Study Offers Clear Direction for Streaming Broadcasters

According to the newly released Infinite Dial study, listening to Internet radio didn’t increase much from 2009 to 2010. Last year’s study pegged the audience at 69 million, this year it’s 70 million, both netting a 27 share of the population.

That’s because broadband is nearly ubiquitous, says the study. As organic growth of broadband has nearly stopped, growth for online mediums such as online radio, podcasting and online video have slowed.

The audience is 55% male, 45% female and tends to be employed, educated, and have higher incomes. They like the interactive options that online radio offers, along with variety and fewer commercials. When asked to name an online only station, Pandora was the clear winner. Pandora is has taken the brand position for online radio. (See my post here about Pandora becoming the Kleenex of Online radio).

The study found that more people listen to online only brands than AM/FM streams. This should be a clear impetus to AM/FM broadcasters to offer more and different options in their online streams. According to this information, listeners are turning online to find offerings that are different than what they can hear on their AM/FM radios. To compete, broadcasters must expand their offerings to include side channels and options that give listeners ways to control and interact with the streams.

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Streaming Ad Insertion Patent Suit Gets Resolved

Flickr credit: Umjanedoan

Update: I’ve been hearing from some sources that the report that all of the companies involved in the lawsuit may not have been involved in this settlement, as was reported by Inside Radio on 12/30. That report was my only source of information on the settlement.

Key broadcasters have settled a patent lawsuit that claimed they were infringing on a patent owned by Aldav for streaming ad-insertion. Aldav and its subsidiary Acacia are companies that specialize in buying up patents and pursuing licensing agreements – often through litigation. Earlier this year they filed suit against a long list of key broadcast companies including CBS Radio, Citadel, Clear Channel, Cox Radio, Cumulus, Entercom, Gap Broadcasting, Radio One, Regent, Saga, Univision.

While the Acacia website shows news of settlements with Cox and Regent, Inside Radio (which is owned by Clear Channel) reports that a settlement has been reached with all of the companies, without any money changing hands. IR reports that just before Christmas the companies and Aldav agreed to a dismissal of the suits. Broadcasters had asked that the court declare the patent invalid because Aldav had failed to assert its rights for years and its patent is unenforceable. The case was set for arbitration in February.

8 Steps Broadcasters Can Take To Expand Their Digital Presence in 2010

Flickr credit: VictoriaPeckham

Here’s my list of 8 things that broadcast stations can do to expand their digital presence for the coming year. It’s not a list of simple fixes – these are ideas that will require investment and dedicated effort.

  1. Dedicate a full time position to creating online content for your website and stream. This is not the webmaster – not the person who writes the code. I’m hoping  most stations already have that person. This is the Director of Digital Content who spends all day every day making your website, stream and various extensions interesting to your audience. The rest of this list has a lot to do with them.
  2. Put all the local information you provide on your website. I don’t just mean a news feed, I mean all the local stuff you say on-air. And tell your listeners it’s there. Refer your listeners to your website constantly. WCBS AM in New York does a great job with this. They constantly refer to the “Mentioned On Air” section of their website during newscasts, and they have their web guy do a segment every day on-air talking about what’s new and interesting on their site.
  3. Use Twitter to connect with your audience. Get your audience to follow you on Twitter and then give them information everyday. Local news stories, personal updates from station personalities, information about station promotions, ways to win stuff, even information from your advertisers. Do not use Twitter merely as a way to promote your station – that’s sure to backfire. Instead, use it as a way to deliver relevant information to your audience. Return the follow to everyone that follows you and always include a link to your site.
  4. Register your listeners online. There’s no reason not to register people who want to listen to your stream. Targeted advertising is the way of the future and it’s coming fast. You should be registering your audience with their age range, email address and gender. Find a platform that makes it easy for them  to register and login or stay logged in so it doesn’t make it hard for them to listen to your stream.
  5. Develop an side channel for your stream. Something that is related to your station’s programming or audience. If you’re a news station, try some Adult Hits. A CHR station could do a kids channel. A rock station could do something edgier, or something that features local artists. There are a bunch of services out there that will develop and brand a side channel for you. You have the audience, why not expand what you’re doing to give them more to listen to and more reasons to love you.
  6. Stop running broadcast commercials on your stream. Resolve now, once and for all that you will not run any commercials with phone numbers on your stream. That every commercial will have an interactive call to action. Visit our website, click on the banner now, send a text to xxx and we’ll send you a link. Those are the ways that your streaming audience wants to interact with  your advertisers and it’s up to you to make sure advertisers understand how to use your stream effectively.
  7. Develop a section of your website that supports your advertisers on-air and online campaigns. Let your advertisers list their offers, link to their websites. Then tell your listeners that they can get information on any of the ads they hear on air or online by visiting your website anytime. It will boost sales for your advertisers and boost renewals for your station.
  8. Get your mobile platform in shape. Consider having an app built that makes it easy for your mobile audience to connect to your stream. Partner with portals that let your listeners connect via their phones – both smartphones and feature phones. Then promote the heck out of it.

To execute this list effectively, station managers must shift their thinking away from the idea that the on-air product is the most important element of their business, and recognize that the content is what matters. The broadcast is simply one way of distributing content. All the other ways matter just as much, and require the same kind of attention. Start thinking like that, and watch your digital presence expand.

Online Radio Will Be 5% of Overall Number for Broadcasters

snl kaganJoining the parade of predictions that online radio revenue will grow in 2010, SNL Kagan predicts that by 2013 online radio revenue will account for nearly 5% of radio’s overall number. Kagan’s announcement, published as part of SNL Kagan’s Broadcaster Investor Service, expects 12% growth this year, with radio’s online revenues tallying $441 million (up from $394 million last year).

Beyond that, SNL Kagan projects an annual online revenue growth rate of 20% in 2010 to $530 million. As the market matures, growth is expected to level off through 2013, rising to $827 million, or 4.7%, of total radio revenues by the end of the five-year period. That compares to 2.0% in 2008 and a projected 2.7% of total radio revenues in 2009.

The decline in broadcast radio revenues has helped to spur the growth of online radio dollars, according to the report. Out of necessity, stations looked to develop online initiatives with websites, streaming and mobile applications to replace traditional ad dollars and increase sales.

The report is focused strictly on broadcasters and appears to refer only to online revenue growth for broadcast stations. Pure online stations such as Pandora, AccuRadio whose revenues would be completely online do not appear to be part of this report.

Pandora: Broadcasters Should Pay Performance Royalties

pandoraLast week, after news that Pureplay Webcasters had reached an agreement with Sound Exchange on performance royalties, Internet radio industry darling Pandora made more news by announcing support for the Performance Rights Act before Congress. That bill would require AM/FM broadcasters to pay performance royalties as well.

Deep background, for those who don’t have it, is that in 1998 the Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed requiring various forms of new media, including satellite and Internet radio, to pay performance royalties on digital media transmissions. Traditional broadcasters have not paid performance royalties. Broadcasters have maintained that the benefits that musicians receive from having their songs played on radio stations is substantial and therefore replaces the need for additional payments.

While I believe that’s true – that the value of playing a song on the radio is substantial – the fact remains that record companies are suffering from an enormous shift in the way music is purchased, and their business is way down. I’ve been saying for a long time that future of the music industry – both record companies and music services (AM, FM, online, whatever) is going to be one of sharing revenue. Radio stations can’t survive if record companies do not find a way to profit.

There are many ways to argue against Pandora’s stance. Just because they have to pay royalties, why does that mean broadcasters should. Isn’t that an eye for an eye mentality? Sure, I think that’s a good point  – why should Pandora want broadcasters to be penalized in the name of fairness?

A much better point, also made by Pandora, is that they want to see musicians get their fair share. Because, whether broadcasters like it or not, if musicians and their labels can’t make money, the system is flawed, and the industry is doomed.

The Revolution May Not Be Televised – Broadcasters and New Media

By David Oxenford

OxenfordDavidOn my blog, I usually write about the legal issues for broadcasters, both the usual FCC issues and those that arise in connection with the convergence of new media and traditional operations.  I thank Jennifer for giving me the opportunity to fill in for her, and to have an opportunity to go beyond a discussion of legal issues, to express my concerns about broadcasters and the future as they attempt to figure out how to handle the challenges and opportunities of the new media.  With the current economy, many broadcasters are naturally focused on what they perceive as their core business, while that core business may be changing under their feet.

I recently attended the BIAfn Winning Media Strategies Conference in Washington, where speaker after speaker talked about the need for broadcasters to embrace the new media to provide content that their audiences were seeking when and where their audience wanted it.  One of the most impressive presentations was by Greenspun Media from Las Vegas, which has reinvented a secondary newspaper and a Low Power TV station as an on-line powerhouse, uncovering the aspects of the community that would draw the largest on-line audience and providing that content in great detail.  The Las Vegas Sun site not only covers hard news, but also the gaming industry, University of Las Vegas sports and even state government issues in a way that its audience seems to find interesting.  The site even features an interactive history of Las Vegas, in great detail, that’s lots of fun to play with for anyone who has ever spent time in the city.  And video plays a big part of the site, with the company in development of a hip news and events program, 702.tv, that will soon be a daily program on the television station as well as an online feature (including having local “celebrities” doing the weather, including strippers and Neil Diamond sound-alikes).

While this display of the power of the use of online media was very impressive, I was disturbed that many of the broadcasters in attendance dismissed the Greenspun presentation, submitting that Las Vegas presented unique opportunities that are not available in all communities.  In fact, in reaction to calls in Audio4cast and other blogs, urging broadcasters to adopt and exploit the new media, I have seen reactions claiming that, in most markets audiences don’t want or need content delivered on the Internet or through mobile devices.  Their audiences don’t care, say some, about online video, and they don’t use Twitter or Facebook, or other new technologies.  Instead, some claim that all their audiences want is what they have “always” wanted, good broadcast products. Others worry about legal issues, like the royalties for Internet radio operations, or just worry about how they can use new media that they don’t fully understand.

I fear that some are underestimating their audiences and their use of new media, whether it be online audio or video or some form of social networking. Being a relatively new adopter of both Twitter and Facebook, I’ve been amazed to find how many people of my baby boomer generation have adopted, accepted and revel in these services, spending far more time than they should reviewing their profiles and keeping track of the lives of their acquaintances (or the lives of strangers).  The new media is incredibly relevant and engrossing – apparently even more so to those of younger generations.  My 20-something kids rarely watch the TV or listen to music (or do much else for that matter) without having their laptops open, checking their Facebook pages regularly to see if any friend has posted anything new, or surfing their favorite websites, fan pages, blogs or video aggregators to make sure that there is nothing that they are missing.

And this is a worldwide phenomenon. Twitter and Facebook are clearly enhancing their images in the revolution in Iran, where few media reports mention radio or television except to dismiss the state-run broadcast services, but all talk about the role of the new media.  I recently visited India on vacation, and was struck to see the ubiquity of the cell phone, being sold and used in even the tiniest villages, with 3G wireless services available in the remote countryside, far from the major cities.  And people were not just talking, but texting and using other online services everywhere.  And while there is commercial radio, I almost never heard it being played.  When I asked one of our guides about whether the typical resident of India listens to the radio, he said, yes, many of the older people still listen.

The new media is not a fad.  It is not going to fade away. Its adoption in remote towns in America or elsewhere in the world cannot be wished away.  Broadcasters now have the opportunity, when they still have the brands that many still find relevant, to stake out positions on the new media frontier, and to drive traffic to their sites. I know that other companies that do not have broadcast stations are already trying to grab that territory, so it won’t be there for long.  Now is not the time for broadcasters to be timid.  Grab the revolution, become part of it.  Don’t let the inevitable march of technology leave you as an historical relic.

David Oxenford is a partner in the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine in its offices in Washington DC.  David represents broadcasters, webcasters and other digital media companies on FCC regulatory matters, in transactions and in connection with music rights issues.  He writes about these issues on his blog: www.broadcastlawblog.com

Broadcasters Must Offer Diverse Digital Assets

by Brian Benedik

brian benedikAs we have seen from various 3rd party research studies, the future of Digital Audio is bright.  As more consumers continue to migrate towards listening to audio through computers & mobile devices, the opportunities for advertisers are enormous…Pre Roll Video, In Stream Audio, Companion Banners, and evolving In Stream Video inventory can all be activated and customized for a Local or National Advertiser.  The growth of audio mobile applications such as Pandora, IHeart Radio, CBS/AOL and others is fueling this trend and it will only accelerate…The idea of marrying terrestrial radio placement with a strategic digital audio program to create a true “Audio” experience is a concept which is resonating with many large & small Ad Agencies around the country.

However, just having Digital Audio in your tool bag is not enough.  Advertisers are looking to activate multiple channels of inventory within their campaigns.  As a Local or National sales agent, you must be able to offer a more comprehensive group of platforms for your clients.  Display, Rich Media Ads, Database segmentation, Mobile and Search capabilities are Digital  inventory to build with Internet Radio so you can create multi channel programs for your customers.  Today’s media salesperson has to think of themselves as a multi channel solutions provider for their clients.

Many of the large terrestrial radio groups are changing the complexion of their sales staffs during the current environment.  The contraction of sellers are now focused on selling multiple sets of terrestrial and digital inventory.  The value proposition of using on air and online assets together is appealing to many brands around the country.

Brian Benedik is President of Katz360, a division of Katz Radio Group. Katz360 sells digital and new media assets for Katz Radio Group’s large network of broadcast stations and online radio brands.

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