We’re not dead

Not Retired

Coming back from a 2 day NPR “summit” in DC to today’s new report on digitial media published by Bridge Ratings. Here’s what jumped out:

  1. Internet listening tops the growth projected for 2007 for terrestrial, satellite, HD radio, and other platforms.
  2. On-line listening to terrestrial simulcasts will increase.
  3. Satellite radio growth is slowing.
  4. HD radio projections are bleaker than satellite, “disappointing” industry expectations.
  5. In a reversal, 12-21 year olds were less likely in these 2006 studies to abandon terrestrial radio as they were in the 2004 studies.

So what does it all mean?

    1. Internet listening tops the growth projected for 2007 for terrestrial, satellite, HD radio, and other platforms. Monthly Internet radio listening, reaching 24% of the US population in 2006, will move to 31% at the end of 2007 and a further increase to 38% by the end of 2008.
    2. On-line listening to terrestrial simulcasts will increase. 25% of Internet listeners report listening to at least one on-line simulcast of on-air station in the 30-days prior to the survey. Projected to move to 31% by the beginning of next year and 38% by 2010 (contingent on outcome of the current copyright debate).3. Satellite radio growth is slowing. Previous 2007 audience growth projection of 3.9 million new listeners are tempered to 2.4 million. Sirius projected to take 60% of the new subscribers which would boost its listenership to 8.1 million versus 8.96 million for XM.4. HD radio projections are bleaker than satellite, “disappointing” industry expectations. Consumer awareness grows, but interest in owning or listening to HD slows. While 70% have heard of HD radio, just 9% say they are “Very Interested in owning HD radio.” Reasons give are “little or no interest “was “Don’t see a need” followed by “Not aware of its benefits”.

    5. In a reversal, 12-21 year olds were less likely in these 2006 studies to abandon terrestrial radio as they were in the 2004 studies. Hinged on two factors: 1) renewed interest in terrestrial radio and/or its Internet simulcast and 2) “iPod fatigue” among a significant number of 12-21 year olds. From 2004 to 2006 the Bridge “panel” had reduced their weekly use of their MP3 players returning to terrestrial radio listening patterns similar to those this group used in 2004.

    My view, gazing through this latest prism, is that:

    1. We’re not dead. Whew. So before you move into your retirement planning, consider that there’s plenty of opportunity for traditional radio to grow, including among the young demographics who are often perceived to be abandoning us. Key, however, is that we’re going to find them via our on-line streams… not via receivers. Get busy thinking about what you’re going to do different with your stream.

    2. Satellite is not the threat to pubradio audience once perceived, and the opportunities for pubradio to grow audience via satellite channels is limited.

    3. HD opportunity is also quite limited. This could change, if there is a significant shift in public perception and habits re: the technology. Hard to make the case, tho, that it is within pubradio’s capacity to drive the shift that’s necessary. That’s not really our job.

    Full report, plus more info on cell phones & podcasting at http://www.bridgeratings.com/