Radio’s Streaming Effort May Be Screwed – Part 2

Yesterday I published a piece that argued two things: First, the decline in streaming for broadcast radio stations is real – it’s a trend, not a blip. Second, that decline has consequences not only for your streaming strategy but also for the strategy of spreading your radio brands across every new platform under the sun (“Alexa, I mean you!”).

So what do you do?

Here’s what I think you have to do. And not just you, but everyone who comes at digital from a place that has not, until recently, been digital:

You have to start over.

Imagine the consumer at the center of the content experience and ask yourself: What does she want? How does she want it? What else does she do on this platform and how does that shape what my brand should offer there?

Too many folks in the broadcast space place the radio station, not the consumer, at the center of that series of questions: What does our company want? How does our company want it?

Or worse – what does our industry want and how does our industry want it?

Nobody cares what your company wants! Nobody cares what your industry wants!

Broadcasters are making bets on podcasting companies not because these companies have larger audiences or “better” content than the broadcasters with the seed capital. No. They’re making those bets because these podcasting companies have tapped into what consumers really desire on that particular platform and they have grown experience in how to maximize it and monetize it.

And…on that platform they do it better than the broadcaster does.

It’s a story as old as media itself and even older than the legendary Marshall McLuhan: When you change the medium, you change the message. A new platform is not just a new distribution channel, it’s a place for a new entertainment experience. And that venue will favor those brands who are either organic to the space or invest enough attention and resources and investment to the space to understand why the audience is there and what they want now and in the future.

That’s what the pureplays do in streaming.

That’s what NPR and Panoply and Wondery and the rest do in podcasting.

That’s what Spotify does on smart speakers, because a consumer is far more likely to say “Alexa, play the new Kesha song” than “Alexa, play KISS FM in Tulsa.”

And that is why year-over-year streaming listening for broadcasters is declining.

* = required field
  • Bewildered

    Where are you seeing declining streaming listeners figures?

  • Did you read part 1?

    Mark Ramsey

  • Bewildered

    Yes, but I’ve realised you’re in US, where the online streaming market is different to here in UK. We have steady growth in online listening of all kinds, albeit far smaller than FM. But our mobile network is behind this, as we have pretty good nationwide coverage, which the larger US will struggle to achieve. Thanks for interesting articles

  • Our nationwide coverage is fine in the US. What you do have in the UK that we don’t have in the US are NATIONAL brands. Outside of NPR the vast majority of our radio brands are local, and the ratio of local to national brands is MUCH greater here.
    I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert on broadcasting practices worldwide, but I sure do know what makes them tick in the US.

  • Bewildered

    The UK radio industry story is getting very interesting – heavy investment in DAB, while internet radio/music growing, FM still strong, doubtful the switch off will ever happen. National brands facing ad income pressure, meaning quality dropping and BBC cut backs. Local radio looking more interesting

  • Robin S

    Agree. The next level of radio content is the big question mark, Mark.

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