Smartphones and other Internet radio devices have increased Internet radio’s mobility and moved Internet radio into much closer competition with broadcast radio, according to a briefing of the Station Resource Group. Wireless Internet radio will not completely replace broadcast radio, however it will continue to expand.
Handheld devices are becoming a popular mobile Internet radio listening device, and although easy listening is complicated by the need for specialized applications per station or service and device operating system, that will likely change with updates to browsers and technology. New interest and developments are heating up for connected automotive devices, which will grow listening to Internet radio as well. However the study notes that these in-car listening stations will also offer AM/FM receivers and won’t replace broadcast technology in cars.
An important aspect of radio’s new delivery systems is the screen that many devices have that can deliver graphical displays and even video. So as not to be considered deficient on these devices, broadcasters must develop alliances and strategies for offering visual content compatible with their audio content.
It’s an interesting briefing that acknowledges the increasing impact the Internet radio is having on broadcast radio stations. There’s wisdom in the recommendations that radio begin to identify itself as a visual medium and develop visual content solutions that can entice listeners. This video by Slate Magazine gives an overview of some Internet radio stations’ visual approaches and also made me think a little more about videos as well…
- Music in the lives of kids has increased to more than two and a half hours a day since the last study.
- Among 15- to 18-year-olds, just under half (45%) say they have ever listened to the radio through the Internet.
- On an average day, an 8-18 year old spends 32 minutes listening to music online, 32 minutes on (broadcast) radio.
- They dedicate the same portion of listening time to Internet radio as they do to broadcast radio (23%).
The main conclusions of the study focus on the fact that young people’s lives are “filled to the bursting point with media,” as they pack nearly 11 hours of media content into 7.5 hours per day (thanks to multi-tasking). According to the study, “The transformation of the cell phone into a media content delivery platform, and the widespread adoption of the iPod and other MP3 devices, have facilitated an explosion in media consumption among American youth.”
You can read more about the study at RAIN.
The Internet Media Device Association (IMDA) has released a standard for standalone internet radio devices which will help to align competing technologies, hasten development of more devices, create clear rules for broadcasters and benefit consumers. For manufacturers of internet radios, the certification standard aims to reduce time to market and marketing risk by removing the prospect of rival technology wars. At the same time, online broadcasters adhering to IMDA Profile 1 will be able to reach target audiences using fewer audio codecs, cutting associated costs.
Mark Hopgood, an IMDA steering committee member and Frontier Silicon’s director of marketing, commented, “audio data streaming over the internet is faced with a unique set of challenges, from codec design through to play list format, countless choices need to be made. If a universal standard isn’t specified now, when the market for internet radios is in its relative infancy, manufacturers risk entering a technology war, like the Betamax/VHS war of the ‘80s. If this happens, many early adopters will end up with obsolete products – this needs to be avoided at all costs. Technology wars create market uncertainty, which hurts manufacturers, hurts broadcasters and, most importantly, hurts the consumers.”
The newly released IMDA baseline standard stipulates devices must decode both WMA and MP3 codecs; use HTTP streaming with 301 and 302 redirection; accept play list formats M3U, ASX, PLS with new line separation for URLs in plain text; and receive stereo streams via two channels or by downloading a mix of both.
The idea is to offer certification of devices as quickly as possible – Harry Johnson, chairman of the IMDA’s steering committee and president of vTuner, concluded, “internet radios bearing the IMDA certified logo will be in the shops before Christmas.”
The IMDA was launched in 2009 to develop and promote a set of open, interoperable standards and device profiles for internet connected media devices. Its steering committee comprises many of the world’s leading players in streaming media: Awox, BBC, Deutsche Welle, the European Broadcasting Union, Frontier Silicon, Global Radio, Pure, Reciva, SWR and vTuner.