Thursday, June 12, 2014

Are broadcasters ready for their Waterloo?

By Don Keith

Regular visitors to this blog know that I often give the guys at the Inside Radio email newsletter grief.  This industry "news" source consistently tries to put a positive spin on every aspect of how rapidly changing technology is affecting its primary readership: traditional, over-the-air broadcasters.

Believe me, they could have found something positive to report to Napoleon and his army after Waterloo!

Well, here is today's example:

Cross-platform data shows more devices boost listening.
As comScore continues on the second phase of its cross-platform Project Blueprint research with ESPN and four other media companies, the data is revealing a pattern that may help settle some broadcasters’ worries that more platforms will mean less radio listening. In fact, multiplatform users are consuming more content overall.

So, radio transmitter-on-the-hill broadcasters, since there are more and more ways for potential listeners to consume audio, things are just rosy for you all.  Break out the champagne!  comScore has determined that since people have more and more ways to get the songs and talk they want to hear, then you guys can continue to stream music--the same music that listeners can get on all those other platforms they adopt, but without your endless self-promotion, repetition, tight playlists, and little else to listen for--and your syndicated talk shows and your listenership will only go up, up, up.

Huzzah and hosanna!

But wait.  As I understand what comScore is saying, the number of listeners is not going up with the proliferation of devices on which they consume media.  The same number of people are consuming slightly more media because they have the devices.  Where in that research does it say that this group of people will listen more to dull, boring broadcast radio with their shiny, new devices when there are myriad more attractive entertainment and information choices available to them?

As I have pointed out to broadcasters for years, if someone is talking on a cell phone, he or she is not listening to your radio station.  And clearly, if he or she is consuming satellite radio, Pandora, Spotify, or any other source on those cross-platform devices that are quickly becoming more ubiquitous than the radio in the dash of the car or on the nightstand at home, then that person is not listening to "the biggest hits of the 80s, 90s and today" that your station continually spews out.

Please, Inside Radio, tell me how that is good news for radio in the midst of a traditional-media Waterloo!