Friday, November 19, 2010

Behind That Wheatstone "Technology Gap" Study

Of the 10 revenue generating technologies the study measured, streaming a station’s radio signal over the Internet was seen as having the most potential. Having a website that interacts with listeners was second, while streaming multiple channels of programming was third.

When respondents were asked which of the 10 technologies their radio organizations are now deploying, streaming was the top pick by far. For six other technologies (listed below), each requiring capital investment, respondents reported group owned stations as implementing them at a substantially higher rate than stand-alone stations:

  • Having a website that delivers video: Group owned, 43.1%; stand-alone, 26.8%
  • Promoting stations with a mobile phone app: Group owned, 43.1%; stand-alone, 22.8%
  • Streaming multiple channels: Group owned, 38.5%; stand-alone, 20.3%
  • Broadcasting in HD Radio: Group owned, 36.9%; stand-alone, 19.5%
  • Websites that create musical discovery: Group owned, 27.7%; stand-alone, 17.9%
  • Broadcasting multiple HD Radio channels: Group owned, 26.2%; stand-alone, 10.6%

What's holding the smaller broadcast companies back? (duh) MONEY.

For the remaining three technologies, which do not require capital investment (using social media to win more listeners, creating a website that interacts with listeners, and creating podcasts) responses for stand-alone and group-owned stations were comparable.

“This study comes to the radio industry at a critical time. As traditional ad revenue has declined, radio organizations are experimenting with new technologies that will add revenue by enabling them to deliver programming through a variety of new channels.” -- Wheatstone Vice President Andrew Calvanese

Evaluating the new radio business models is not easy. “Part of the difficulty is they are all baby models at this point, and they are all different. Different organizations are following different models: Some people are making money from streaming, others from local events, still others are making money from banner ads. Not everyone is good at following these paths. Radio could end up becoming multiple industries, because [individual] broadcast groups [could] have less in common with each other than they do with companies in other industries.” -- Mark Ramsey, president of Mark Ramsey Media

With the exception of streaming, stand-alone stations are falling behind group-owned stations in using revenue generating technologies that require capital investment. Group-owned stations are pulling ahead by a ratio of about 2:1.

Long term, as revenue builds from these new technologies, stand-alone stations could find themselves challenged to compete economically. (grab the study report here - pdf)


Jay Walker said...

In this economy, you can't blame smaller radio companies for being frugal, but growing revenues does cost money.

When does frugal start damaging relationships with employees?

Rick Walters said...

A very wise quote " You can have listeners without clients, but you can't have clients without listeners".

We need to do whatever it takes to engage the listeners,keep top of mind. If they aren't talking about you, they are not listening.

Good stuff Jaye, keep us engaged.

Jim Kerr said...

I'm not so sure this is as simple as a "money!" issue.

There are certainly stations where money is the primary problem, but I think that there is a significant knowledge gap that is also holding back smaller operators.

You can't invest in something if you don't understand the value, both for your listeners and your advertisers.

Jay Bedford said...

I listen to a fair number of stations that stream and I don't understand why so many radio stations (appear) to take their feed live from the board.

The levels are erratic and the signal is uncompressed and 'uneven'.

Our feed comes after all processing; in other words it's the feed that is sent to the transmitter.

In the case of American stations I understand that some have 'internet only' ads that run at the same time as the local spots. But there must be a way around the problem.

Or, is it just the PD's and/or engineers never gave it any thought?

It bothers me.

Anonymous said...

Primary reason is plain expense.

There is no thought put into the processing of the signal. Our stream is in mono. There is no processing, nor is there ever any intent of adding that.

We have 10 year old legacy computers operating our products. Why would we invest money in a stream?

Josh Gordon said...

Here's the problem: if radio stations don't invest in sending thier content through these new emerging channels, there will be online radio "pure plays" who will. If and when those markets develop the stations that now have the pole position in those markets could be playing catch up.
Also, from the study we see that the competition is not from just "pure plays." Somehow group owned stations stations are finding the money to invest.
Thanks for reviewing our study.