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Has Online Radio Growth Stagnated?

From the new Edison/Arbitron study on media platforms comes this headline:

Weekly Online Radio Audience Increases from 11 percent to 13 percent of Americans In Last Year.

What that headline doesn’t say is that this number was evidently 12% in 2006. Thus the statistical fact of the matter is that online radio listening – according to these data – are utterly unchanged over the past two years.

Does that seem odd to you? It sure seems weird to me.

Now granted, this is a specialized subset of listeners – the folks who participate with Arbitron. But still.

It’s not clear how this question was asked (What, exactly, is “online radio”? Do listeners know what we’re talking about here?). Laying out that definition might clear things up.

Whether or not the numbers are correct, the headline is abjectly misleading.

But it still puzzles me that in an environment where access to home broadband (as noted in this study) is skyrocketing, where penetration of portable music players – driven by the Internet – is increasing, where radio station streaming grows annually, where online is catching up to radio in terms of its influence on music discovery, in this environment…

…”online radio” listening remains unchanged since 2006?

If true, what does this say about the taste for “radio” online in what is otherwise a growing market for online audio?

Is “radio” what I use primarily when I choose to turn off the PC and the iPod?

Let me ask the most provocative question of all: Why should we stream our stations if the market for online radio is stagnating?

Unless it’s not.

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