Thursday, January 15, 2015

Radio broadcasting "feel good" stats -- REDUX

By Don Keith

Following up on my recent post about how head-in-the-sand broadcasters seize upon any feel-good statistic they can find, here comes another one.  And this one is from the same industry trade as the previous straw-clutching "study:"

Survey: Spotify users more likely to be radio listeners.
A new study offers more evidence that the growth of digital music services is additive to radio listening, rather than cannibalizing it. Streamers are 9% more likely to listen to the radio than non-streamers, according to a new global survey conducted by comScore and commissioned by Spotify.
I doubt Spotify was trying to do over-the-air broadcasters any favors with this particular comScore survey, but count on radio station owners to find something...anything...they could claim as a positive stat.

OK.  People who listen to music streams...that is, music over the computer, tablet, smart phone or other source that does not come from some tower on a mountain...are 9% more likely to listen to the radio than those who don't stream.

There are the usual questions from anyone who knows anything at all about research and stats.  Who participated in this study?  What are their demographics?  How many respondents were there?  What does "9% more likely" mean?  Are we only talking about listening to music stations or to radio in general?

Then there is the biggest and most obvious question: did it not occur to the headline writer/positive news gleaner that people who enjoy music enough to listen to Internet streams probably enjoy it enough to seek it out on the radio as well if that is a choice?

There is no way to know how many people listen to Spotify most of the time but can't do so at other times, say while at work.  Many companies forbid employees to use their computers to stream music at work.  Millions more don't have access to a streaming device at work but may well have a radio within earshot. Those respondents would have to include radio listening if asked.  Many--likely most--don't have the capability of streaming in the car so, if they want music, the radio is the only choice.  The only choice, too, for traffic, weather and news while commuting.

The fact that folks who listen to music on their phones or computers are only 9% more likely to also listen to a radio station is not good news.  Not good news at all!  Nor does it prove--or even suggest--that digital music listening is "additive" for over-the-air radio listening.

And what is that I see out there on the sandy horizon?  Lots and lots of ostrich anuses.

(Don Keith is a licensed amateur radio operator with the call sign N4KC. He is a best-selling author and worked in media and advertising for over 45 years.)

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