New York broadcast rock station WRXP, which Emmis recently agreed to sell to Merlin Media, will continue to stream online and “strengthen Emmis’ presence in the digital space, as well as preserve the identity of RXP, which has become a leading alternative rock brand within New York City and national markets since the current format launched in 2008.”
Well, there’s some irony for you. Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan is one of the most vocal broadcasters when it comes to busting streaming’s potential as a business model. A huge advocate for FM chips in cell phones, he’s gone to great lengths to argue against streaming as a viable mobile distribution channel for radio due to its large expense. He’s stated repeatedly that there is no money in streaming for his company.
Did he forget to inform his staff of his position?
“Emmis has some big things in the works to continue expanding our digital footprint,” said Chase Rupe, Vice President of Programming & Operations for Emmis. “As competitors are moving in on the land rush to grab the next bit of real estate focused on delivering audio content on multiple platforms, we are fortunate to have big brands with impressive local and national followings that we can continue to serve and expand upon. RXP is one of our strongest brands and we are excited to keep it alive in the hearts and ears of its loyal followers in New York and around the world.”
Oh, I get it, it’s all for the listeners:
“We recognize that RXP passionate fan base loves the station and we look forward to continu(ing) to deliver a quality product to these listeners.” said Patrick Walsh, CFO/COO at Emmis.
I’m glad that WRXP will live online. It’s a smart move to take a station with an established brand and move it online. Listeners will follow. But I don’t believe for a second that Emmis and CEO Jeff Smulyan made this decision because they think they’re going to lose money…
A study of global mobile device behavior shows rapid growth in the use of those devices to stream audio and video. Mobile Life is an annual study from TNS of global device consumer behavior.
The study is huge – 34,000 interviews with mobile users in 43 countries. But this chart, which shows the activity level of various services on mobile devices from 2010 to 2011 shows streaming music and video as rising from 0 to significant in a very short period of time.
Pandora, the most listened to Internet radio platform in the US, sees at least 50 percent of listening occurring on mobile devices. Dashboard devices that enhance ease of listening in cars will likely accelerate growth.
The ubiquity of mobile streaming, combined with the allure of the devices themselves, are a huge threat to broadcast listening, and it is a small wonder that broadcast advocates want to see FM chips built in and promoted. It’s also possible that expensive data plans that make it difficult to stream could drive some mobile FM listening on those devices. While I’m skeptical of the uptake that listening to FM on a smartphone will see from consumers, I get why NAB and individuals like Jeff Smulyan of Emmis Broadcasting are pushing it. As mobile usage continues to soar, being part of the mobile content package could be a critical piece of broadcasting’s survival.