Pandora and Local Radio

Harker Research posted an interesting analysis a few weeks ago, comparing the ratings of Pandora to those of the typical terrestrial radio station. Here's the main point:

If we divide Pandora’s AAS by the US population, we’ll have their rating. The 12+ population of the US is about 256 million, so Pandora’s national rating is something like 0.1. It might be a little higher in some markets, a little lower in others, but on average Pandora has the same average listenership as a typical niche programmed AM station, ranked outside the top 20.


This ties into my earlier point about Pandora's time spent listening. There's a lot of tune-in to Pandora, but not a lot of stickiness.

Read the Harker Research piece here.



Pandora Listeners Do Not Seem to Listen Long

Ando Media released their January rankings of streaming audio entities last week. Pandora is on top of the heap in "session starts," with 100 million plus. Pretty impressive, even when you consider that this is as duplicated number and not an unduplicated measure like cume.

But the really interesting bit is that Pandora listeners spend less than an hour with the service for each session, on average. In comparison, Cox Radio's streaming listeners spend over two hours for each session, Saga and Citadel's spend considerably more than 3 hours.

There has been a lot of talk about the stickiness of Pandora, but these numbers expose the fact that the service is cool, but boring. People are finding that the streams from broadcasters like Saga, Cox, Citadel, CBS and Clear Channel are more than twice as engaging.

As more streaming moves from the home and office to the car, it will be interesting to see how these numbers play out. For example, will Pandora listeners bring their listening to the car? The stats will show those connections as additional session starts. For listeners of terrestrial stations who use the stream when in the office and listen to the same station in the car, the behavior might well be to forgo listening on IP devices and revert to the car radio. This will be a complicated behavior to measure; PPM is probably the only tool that can do it.

The complete pdf of the Ando Media January report is available by clicking this link.

Are Podcasts Dead?

On Friday, Leo Laporte, founder of the This Week in Tech network of programs, spoke at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco. His comments and the questions from the audience afterwards can be seen here.

The speech is very interesting and it exposes Laporte as a true renaissance man. One of his more controversial comments is a statement that "Podcasting is dead." This is quite jarring, since it comes from the guy who many of us think as "Mr. Podcast" (OK, Leo, "Mr. Netcast"). He has built a very nice business by delivering 20+ podcasts weekly to an audience now in the millions worldwide. Leo goes on to say that he began to feel that podcasting was "dead" about a year ago and began building a streaming platform so that his network was prepared for the transition. Today, the TWIT Network delivers all its programming both through audio podcasts and via live streams. When there are no live programs to stream, they replay recently recorded programming on the stream.

Of course, he didn't mean that podcasting was history and that no one is listening anymore. Podcasting has reached a plateau in its growth. Leo noted that for most veteran podcasters, growth began to flatten out about a year ago. To grow audience beyond the people who are willing to put up with podcasting's current rather chunky user experience, a new archetype needs to emerge. Leo feels that this new archetype is a combination of live and on-demand streaming... different than podcasting's "store and forward" approach. New dedicated devices like the Roku will provide this kind of service to consumers. In fact, Leo said that he was teaming with Mediafly to provide his network's offerings on the Roku device.

Many people listen to podcasts right at their PC - either not realizing that they can go portable with their iPod or just not caring too. Many others take their content with them - to the gym, on the road, to work. I have found that loading up my iPod with programming that I want to listen to allows me - with minimal effort - to listen both at home and on the road. My TSL for broadcast radio dropped precipitously when I began doing this and it has not recovered. One of the reasons for this is content; however, the main one is convenience. I can listen to what I want, when I want. The broadcast radio over-the-air streaming model doesn't allow for that, yet, although the new iPod Nano is providing a baby step in that direction with the "pause listening" feature. On-demand streaming might, but only when the technology reaches mobile platforms.

On-demand streaming is coming - Flycast and other similar services provide a rich portable mobile experience, mixing live broadcasts with some "on demand." Until ubiquitous wireless broadband is available - and at a price that can be absorbed by the masses - this will remain a platform suffering from similar restrictions to growth that technologies like podcasting are experiencing. Some sort of local storage of content will be needed for some time to come. Many technical folks feel strongly that the wireless IP network is not yet up to the demands of delivering streaming content to portable devices. Today, with relatively few people (some subset of iPhone, Android and Blackberry users) accessing audio streams while mobile, it's not an issue. Globally, the iPhone has sold about 20 million units. That's just the population of New York. Imagine all 300 million Americans trying to stream audio at the same time! It's not a scalable model yet.

So - to answer my rhetorical question - no, podcasts aren't dead. Podcasts are just going through the same rapid evolutionary process as other delivery vehicles. Smart people, like Leo, are finding ways to augment the audience that the podcast delivery mechanism provides. Others are building alternative distribution channels to iTunes. The concept of podcasts will be with us for a while - until the practical application of technology provides a better solution.



Has Arbitron really exited the streaming audio measurement biz?

Katy Bachman, in a brief article in MediaWeek reporting on the decision by TargetSpot to use AndoMedia for its streaming audio measurement, also stated that:

Arbitron quietly decided to get out of the streaming radio ratings business earlier this year and discontinued its relationship with comScore. According to industry sources, Arbitron was unable to make money from the business faced with a competitor who charged little or nothing for the ratings and delivered them as a byproduct of its ad server business.


Well, it must have been very quiet, because the only other mention of this I found was on the blog Internetradioworld in a post on April 9th:

According to industry sources, Arbitron was unable to make money from the business faced with Ando Media, their main competitor, who charged little or nothing for the ratings and delivered them as a byproduct of its ad server business.


InternetRadioWorld's blog entry seems to be an analysis of the impact of such an exit on the industry.

Both of these articles were within days of Arbitron and Edison's announcement of the research from their "Infinite Dial 2009" survey indicating that online radio listening cume audience has increased to 42 Million.

Now - Michael Skarzynski, the new CEO at Arbitron, and all the other folks at Arbitron, are pretty smart. I strongly doubt that Arbitron is "getting out" the streaming audio measurement business and leaving it to AndoMedia. And the folks at ComScore are quite bright, too. Measurement of streaming media has been a big investment for them and the market for this data is only going to grow. So, what's up here?



Streaming Audio ROI Spreadsheet

A while back, I wrote a spreadsheet for some simple calculations of the return on investment for streaming audio - like a radio station.

I have made some changes to the spreadsheet to accommodate the new negotiated SoundExchange fees for terrestrial broadcasters who stream.

Here's a link - click on the picture and then you should be able to edit the cells in yellow to see the results of different audience size, spot counts and so on.

New Streaming Costs Calculator - Online Spreadsheets - EditGrid.jpg

It's a work in progress - tell me what you think!


Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble and more at Radio Ink's Convergence 2009

Convergence 2009 took place 2 weeks ago in San Jose. This is Eric Rhodes' second gathering of folks who are working to bring radio across the chasm of convergence. Unfortunately, I (and many others, I am sure) couldn't make trip this year - but Eric has posted some video of the event on YouTube. To make it easier to access, here's what he has posted so far:

Opening Presentation (A twist on the rather viral "Did You Know?" meme)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcVLXt6DHG0]

Convergence - Day 1

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEB84bTJAms]

Convergence - Day 2

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_9o7aq76AI]

Robert Scoble eating lunch

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Skz50nrAZbs]

Obviously, these are just tidbits of the entire program. I can't wait for Eric to post more complete versions of some of the sessions so that those of us who were unable to travel to San Jose this year can learn from his great work.

Thanks, Eric and team for putting on this great conference!

Radio is the thing...

Caroline Krediet, Planning Director at TAXI-NYC, a brand agency, wrote a piece for MediaPost that sounds heretical for the typical media pundit in 2009. Here's a quote:



There it is: Clinically proven to be entertaining and economical, innovative democratic and about as underleveraged as a medium can be in our frenzied multichannel universe. I may be in the minority on this one, but I do think that in today's economy, radio affords some of the juiciest creative opportunities, at a bargain price. A radio revival could be just the thing to beat the recession blues.

She covers a wide range of rationale in her piece, but it all revolves around the unique engagement that the audio medium has with the listener. It's vital to note that she isn't just talking about terrestrial radio; she correctly points out that all forms of radio - streaming, satellite, podcasting and terrestrial - have this unique property. Check out the article here.




Deloitte Predicts 2009 to be strong year for WiFi Radio

Deloitte Canada released some predictions for the media industry in Canada this week. One prediction of interest is "the dawn of WiFi Radio." Here's a quote from the analysis:

But in 2009, the availability of reasonably priced standalone Internet radio devices, 10,000 available stations, pervasive WiFi and location-aware technology will push consumers and advertisers alike to turn the dial to the Internet.


No doubt that they are on the right track... but it's not just WiFi... it's all the other new wireless IP technologies that will drive this as well. Certainly, smartphone (iPhone, G1, Blackberry and others) streaming applications using 3G networks, WiMax, and hybrid technologies like miRoamer and Blaupunkt's new aftermarket streaming enabled car radio will be at the crest of the wave.

Deloitte also makes the point that the location-awareness of these "receivers" will enable geographically targeted advertising. It's not just location awareness, though - these applications will also know who you are, so they can target ads even more accurately. Perhaps even personally.

It remains to be seen whether there will be enough funding available to drive this change in 2009.

Want to start your own radio station? For free??

Sounds like a come-on from an email spammer, right? But - it's true. Radio automation, streaming and ad-serving provider Spacial Audio is offering up 50 "radio stations" to radio folks who have been "down-sized" sometime during the past 6 months. They call it the "Radio Bailout." Here's the deal:
1. Every Tuesday between February 3rd and April 7th, five people will be randomly chosen to receive their "radio stations." There will be fifty winners total. The Radio Bailout will end with the final drawing on Tuesday, April 7.
2. Each week's five Bailout recipients will be given an opportunity to build their own internet radio station through the following Spacial Audio software and service:
a) One (1) SAM Broadcaster v4 - (valued at $279.00)
b) One (1) StreamAds Ad Delivery Platform - (valued at $99/month)
c) Free use of one stream from SpacialNet.com, with the ability to serve up to 500 concurrent listeners at 128 kb/s - (valued at $1,150/month)
3. Just go to Spacial Audio's Radio Bailout web page for complete details

And - Spacial Audio will host your stream for up to 5 years!

500 concurrent listeners at 128kbs is a pretty decent sized audience with a quality stream; I wonder if they'll support 1000 at 64kbs?

They are even pitching this to salespeople - after all, a salesperson and some talent could hook up and build their business together.

I've gotta hand it to these folks - this is a terrific idea that will not cost a lot to implement but will both help Spacial get a lot of attention and help 50 radio folks become entrepreneurs. And - internet radio station owners.