KUSF, the University of San Francisco radio station, has been a stalwart of college free form programming for many years, but no more. The University sold the station’s FCC license for radio frequency 90.3 FM to Classical Public Radio Network, which is launching a non-commercial classical music station in the Bay Area. CPRN is owned by University of Southern California.
The call letters, music and logo were not sold and USF will continue to air the station online. According to an announcement by the University, all staff will be retained. The announcement also points out that the station can now expand its audience further: “The move to online-only distribution gives KUSF a powerful opportunity to grow its worldwide audience. Previously, the station was limited to 100 online listeners at a time, but capacity will be increased to accommodate thousands of listeners.”
“After all, to give students experience in broadcasting you don’t need an actual FM transmitter/license. For example, San Francisco State University has a decent broadcast program, and no FCC licensed station, only a streaming one.” says Rusty Hodge, Founder of San Francisco based Soma.FM.
Hodge adds that “the loss of KUSF is a big one for the community.”
While it may be a big loss for the community, it does sound like a win for the University and its students. The school gets cash and freed from expensive maintenance and licensing worries, the students pick up access to a nice streaming enterprise that gains them newer technology experience and a more global reach. And the students may well be more drawn to listening to and producing online programming than they were to broadcasting..
AndoMedia has released its monthly ranker of listening estimates to Internet radio platforms that are measured by Webcast Metrics, which uses a proprietary platform to track audience data and convert it to audience metrics that can be easily understood by stations, publishers and advertisers.
For Domestic total week listening, Pandora’s audience continues to rank first, followed by CBSRadio’s online radio platform, which includes all its streaming broadcast stations as well as AOL and Yahoo Launchcast (but does not include CBSRadio-owned Last.fm). Clear Channel, Citadel, Entercom, Cox, EMF, ESPN and Radio One round out the top ten online radio platforms on the domestic ranker which counts only verified US based listening.
The All Streams ranker, which counts all listening to an online group or station’s streams, shows some stations that are not providing location verified listening data. Big online brands Digitally Imported, 977Music, 1.fm and AccuRadio push some broadcaster based platforms out of the top ten in this ranker.
AndoMedia points out that this month the average number of listening sessions, sessions started and time spent listening all increased. More info and the actual rankers are available here.
Paul and Fred Jacobs are research and marketing gurus and owners of Jacobs Media. Recently, in addition to making names for themselves as consultants to public radio and rock radio stations, they’ve become experts in iPhones and custom apps for smartphones.
The two businesses are all about marketing. It’s still about about the audience, according to Paul Jacobs. Apps are more than a way to connect to a station’s stream, they create an engagement point with listeners. Apps are really a strategic marketing tool that enables a station to open up its brand to a mobile audience.
JacAPPS created the recently launched app for WEEI in Boston, and according to Jacobs, it’s the most robust and complex app that they have built, featuring content, scores and headlines, blogs, podcasts, and of course, a streaming player.
The jacAPPS radio app features artist and title information, one click stream access and an alarm clock function along with background/foreground play, station controls, and a rotating background panel that stations can easily control to create sponsorship opportunities. They’ve built about 140 apps for radio stations so far — for companies like Greater Media, Lincoln Financial, Entercom, Cox, NPR and EMF. They’re also working with some international companies.
In these days of little revenue growth, the app business has taken off for the Jacobs guys. Mobile strategy, more listeners, new revenue stream — and an average jacAPP costs $2k to $5k. Which makes me wonder what anyone is waiting for…
Boston sports fans have a new way to stay connected with their Sox and Pats, not to mention Celts and Bruins, with WEEI’s new iPhone app. Tim Murphy, Vice President/General Manager of WEEI.com says the new app gives fans a full 360-degree Boston sports experience right in the palm of their hands.
The application, designed by WEEI in partnership with jacAPPS, the mobile division of Jacobs Media, is the most complete sports radio and news application available for the iPhone. All content from WEEI Radio and WEEI.com is available in this application, including popular features like LIVE streaming, On Demand Audio, live local scores, WEEI.com blogs & columns featuring news and commentary from WEEI.com’s world-class team of journalists.
Impressive features include the ability to listen to live WEEI audio, while scrolling through news, scores and stories. Most iPhone streaming applications do not allow for multi-tasking on the device while streaming. On demand audio and video and a live streaming feature that allows the user to jump back 10 minutes and replay the audio are other standout features of this app.
“WEEI has been leading the digital shift in Boston Sports media since we made our initial upgrades in content and design back in August 2008,” Murphy said. “We’re convinced this new cutting-edge iPhone application will help us continue to dominate in the digital space.” Fans of Boston sports that do not have iPhones can still access WEEI streaming audio on their mobile device through Entercom’s partnership with Flycast.
WEEI’s a big station for Entercom, and they have diligently invested in tools and talent to enhance and expand their digital footprint with sports fans in Boston. An iPhone app makes a lot of sense as yet another way to brand and connect with their audience.
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.
An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday points out that while Internet radio’s audience is growing, ad dollars are not growing at the same rate. Gordon Borrell, a local media consultant, points out that radio has been slowest of the traditional media to shift to online sales – taking only 2.4% of its overall revenue in online dollars, while television and newspapers see higher percentages (3.4% and 7%).
The reasons, according to the article, are that radio stations have been unable to charge enough for web commercials – advertisers are paying about half as much as they do for broadcast on a cost per thousand basis. That’s if they pay for it at all – according to the article many advertisers just see it as a sweetener to the broadcast deal.
I checked in with Tim Murphy, General Manager of Entercom’s successful WEEI.com who says it’s all about educating the buyers. “At Entercom Boston, and specifically WEEI, we have discovered that consumers will find world-class content through the distribution platform that is most convenient to them. Our focus, both for programming and sales, is to educate the media buyer that they can actually increase their reach & frequency against a hyper-engaged consumer by leveraging both streams as part of their advertising strategy.”
The WSJ article goes on to say that there is one exception to “how low can you go” pricing for streaming ads, and that’s Pandora, which one buyer said was actually 20% more expensive than broadcast radio spots in Los Angeles.
Let’s consider the value proposition that spots on Pandora, targeted to listeners in LA, offer an advertiser versus the same spots on a broadcast station’s stream in that market. On Pandora, the advertiser’s audio message will run between songs, not in a stopset with 2,3 or 4 other spots. It will be delivered to a registered listener – Pandora knows whether that listener is male or female, where they live and how old they are, so 100% of the advertisers impressions will be precisely in the advertiser’s demographic.
On the LA broadcast station or its stream, the advertiser’s message will run or be inserted over a broadcast spot, within a stopset with several other commercials. Demographic targeting will be based on format selection – but since all of those listeners are hearing the same programming, the commercials are delivered to everyone, not just the listeners in the target demographic.
There’s a much greater value proposition for advertisers on a station like Pandora and other online stations that control the number of commercials they air and offer targeting and other enhancements. If broadcast stations want to see pricing improve on their streams, they’ll need to start creating unique online programming and offering advertisers features such as targeting, interactive access to listeners and other cross platform enhancements.
AndoMedia has (finally) released audience data for May, June, July, August and September 2009, now called the Internet Audio Top 20. The long wait for new rankers was a result of an overhaul to the ratings. Substantial changes include moving to a one-minute listening session as qualifier for measurement instead of the old five minute rule; and new metrics such as Session Starts, Average Active Sessions, and Average Time Spent Listening to replace Average Quarter Hour and Cume. From the press release, here are the definitions of each term:
- Session Starts is defined as “The number of streams of one minute or more that are started within a time period.”
- Average Active Sessions is defined as “The average number of streams of one minute or more that are active within a time period.”
- Average Time Spent Listening is defined as “The average number of hours for each session lasting more than one minute within a time period.”
There’s no sign of Targetspot’s network in this ranker, although they announced in April that they would begin using Ando’s measurement, consolidating the industry on one audience measurement platform. Katz’ Online Network is the only sales network reflected in these new rankers.