Watching Online Listening Trends? You Should Be.
by Kerry Brewer
If you haven’t seen the latest Arbitron / Edison Research Report called the Infinite Dial 2011, then you should download a copy from Arbitron’s website. It is easy to see with all the eye-candy charts exactly what is happening to the growth of online radio and online advertising. An estimated 89 million Americans listened to online radio last month, and 56% have listened to an online AM/FM station, or pureplay internet radio station. That is a number that should continue to grow for the next several years . . .a number that is up from 69 million monthly listeners a year ago. In fact, the online audience has doubled every 5 years since 2001.
Althea Research recently released a report showing that of listeners polled, over 96% believe the Internet is going to play a bigger role in the future of radio. More people are now listening on phones and devices, and not just desktops, utilizing the Internet and bandwidth that allows for all kinds of potential. The key in today’s online listening world is to provide the listener with opportunities to interact. The Internet provides that ability.
Althea goes on to report that out of all the new revenue generating technologies, online streaming was listed as the best choice for earning potential, followed by a website catering to the listeners, followed by streaming multiple channels (as in HD Radio) and followed closely by social media and mobile apps. The addition of video and podcasts to a listener site can also help to drive revenue and loyalty.
As we see slight declines in the listenership of traditional AM/FM radio, there is a noticeable shift to Internet listening, offsetting any real lost-listener numbers, as they are in fact for the most part, simply listening to their favorite stations, just via different devices and at different times. This is a major reason that stations need to be pro-active in going after the new mediums like social media, mobile apps, and streaming in AAC+, so that they can reach any device out there, as more and more listeners are listening remotely in one form or another.
When it comes to the top reasons that folks list for listening to online radio, “variety” and “control” are the most heard. People like choices, and the Internet gives you the choice, variety and control of listening to what you want, when you want. Other reasons listed by online listeners are; less DJ chatter (one of the main reasons people like Sirius XM), fewer commercials and a much better reception or signal.
The majority of online listening, much to chagrin of many an employer, occurs between the hours of 8 AM and 6 PM EST, and can easily be seen reflected in the bandwidth charts of any major streaming provider. I tell radio station owners and managers all the time, that this is a different listening audience with a much higher dwell time than in-car listeners following traditional morning and afternoon drive time.
As a matter of fact, the average online listener listens for an average of 81 minutes per day, up from 68 minutes per day in 2010. You can safely bet that a lot of that time is spent at their desk or workplace, or on a smartphone. If you are not already streaming to desktops and mobile phones, you certainly need to be. The truth is in the pudding, and in this case the pudding is being served during normal business hours.
Kerry Brewer is Sr. Managing Director at Securenet Systems, a leading provider of online streaming services to the worldwide radio industry.
81 minutes a day? Wow. Not surprising though, its never been easier to do.