One category that is not suffering this year is entertainment subscriptions, according to new information released by NPD Group. According to their new study, overall per capita spending on entertainment subscriptions rose by nearly 7% this year.
As of August 2009, 81 percent of U.S. households subscribed to a television service (satellite TV, basic/premium cable, or fiber-optic television service). A similar percentage of households (76 percent) paid for Internet subscriptions. Seventeen percent subscribed to an online music service or satellite radio; and 14 percent subscribed to online gaming subscription services.
While subscriptions to newspapers and magazines have declined, the rapid growth of smartphone sales has driven an increase in mobile data plan subscriptions: 9 percent of U.S. consumers had mobile data subscriptions this year, versus just 6 percent last year.
It’s not just limited to online or connected content delivery either. Fourteen percent of consumers subscribed to a home-video subscription service, like Netflix, this year, which is 2 percentage points higher than last year.
Recently, several Internet radio station owners have quietly told me the same thing. Listeners are willing to pay for content, particularly if it comes with a premium such as better sounding delivery, or no ads. It’s becoming a decent revenue stream for those that have suitable content and a loyal listener base…
The much anticipated launch of the US version of Goom Radio took place earlier this week. Goom, a french based Internet radio site, got a lot of attention from the digital audio space earlier this spring when they announced that they had secured $16M in funding and hired several notable radio executives for their US based operations. Goom Radio France launched in 2008 and is led by Emmanuel Jayr and Roberto Ciurleo, former executives at NRJ, France’s number one radio station.
Goom’s US executive team is led by CEO Rob Williams, who most recently served as President and Market Manager for Clear Channel NY, and chief sales officer Drew Hilles, who led dMarc Broadcasting, through an acquisition by Google, where he served as a director for four years. Before joining Clear Channel, Williams was at AMFM, Inc. Hilles was most recently director of audio content partnerships and ad sales for Google. Tim Herbster, who was most recently music director for New York’s Z100 will serve as head of programming for Goom Radio.
“We have put together a stellar team, all with a strong background in radio and an eye toward the future of programming for the Internet generation,” said Williams, “to establish Goom Radio as a unique alternative to what is currently available in the world of online music. Our objective is to create remarkable radio experiences, something we feel the current generation of online offerings has not really focused on, truly bringing together the best of both the radio and the Internet.”
Goom Radio will distinguish itself from the Internet radio pack with an approach that is closer to broadcast radio programming with live personalities, shows and artist interviews. Unique features, not yet launched, include the ability to create your own radio station and share it with your friends. From their website: “Be a DJ and influence your own mix, schedule your own shows and jingles, talk about the music that is important to you. Soon, we’ll even help you upload or record your own content.”
Goom also uses “proprietary technology” to offer enhanced sound quality. Truthfully, on my little laptop speakers, I’m not sure that I would have noticed. I’ve heard they will be licensing this technology to other streaming stations as well.
I listened to Goom Radio for a while and thought it sounded fine – The top 40 channel had a similar sound to a live FM top 40 major market station. I’ll look forward to playing with the more interactive features. The social networking tools are fun – I was able to easily tweet about what I was listening to, and could have put it on facebook as easily if I wanted to. Interestingly, I also heard some commercials (after just one song) – one for Proflowers and one for Netflix. Plus an audio preroll that launched as soon as I navigated to the site. They’re wasting no time in establishing their business model…