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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

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Radio Industry Myopia on Competition

Do yourself a favor and make a pledge to be aware of names which appear in radio industry trade magazines when online competition is mentioned. Then, to that, add a pledge to count the number of times a name other than Pandora appears.
"...while listening to any of these audio sources there's one undeniable inference: the audience is NOT listening to over-the-air radio."

Let's see if we can't get the other names that radio trades like to mention out of the way for you: iHeartRadio (owned by Clear Channel), Rdio (part-owned by Cumulus), and (owned by CBS Radio). Spotify appears occasionally, as does TuneIn. Podcast One also shows from time-to-time due to its owner's stance within radio; he's Norman Pattiz, founder of Westwood One.

If you keep track, it's rare to see another name in radio trades on this list of radio's new competition besides those mentioned above.

What you are witnessing is the myopic view radio chooses to take when discussing how large the competitive pool has grown. It keeps those in the business warm and fuzzy inside, not hearing that there are thousands of other services - serving tens-of-millions of listeners. As an aside, while listening to any of these audio sources there's one undeniable inference: the audience is NOT listening to over-the-air radio.

This is a problem that's been around since the advent of the internet. Radio industry trade publications ignore discussions of the vastness of audio consumption, so as not to irritate their audience. Most depend on conventions for revenue - with the exception of Clear Channel-owned "Inside Radio," where you'd expect a reporting style that's radio friendly or supportive. An example is in today's "Nielsen pegs TSL drop for AM/FM listening" headline, softened by the phrase, "But the picture of radio listening is incomplete, missing the growing volume of time spent listening to AM/FM radio via online streams."

Anyone with access to Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics can easily see that broadcasters are not doing as strong as that sentence about "...AM/FM radio via online streams" suggests (Download Report). Even ninth-placed pureplay Idobi Radio Radio (Monday-Sunday Domestic Listening for April 2014) is doing better than 10 broadcasters' streams. What is Idobi Radio Radio? You won't read about it in a radio industry trade. Nor do the names of Live 365, Sticher, Songza, or others get mentioned, except on rare occasion. Therefore, they don't exist to people in the radio industry.

I track a variety of companies, in categories that include serving consumers and internet radio station operators. It is by no means a complete list, showing 36 different consumer destinations for audio in music and talk. There are 37 companies serving hosting services for radio stations, nearly all also serve audio programs to consumers. Competition is far stiffer than anyone in radio can imagine being force-fed the name Pandora over, and over, and over again.

It would be useful to everyone if these radio industry trades would not bring up the name Pandora as if it's the only competitor. The other day I read that Pandora was being dissed because it didn't measure up to the revenue of the entire broadcast radio industry. How wise is that?

When mentioning online radio (or "audio" if you prefer) we should see a stream of different names, making for a better representation of current online competition for the radio industry.

Not seeing because you don't look doesn't make the environment safer. It just soothes the nerves of those still in a state of denial.

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