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Here come HD Radio subscriptions

Here’s one from NAB I missed…

From Wired:

A new “conditional broadcasting” feature for HD Radio called RadioGuard, from NDS, will allow owners of compatible HD radios to pay for premium content via a subscription, a one-time charge, or as part of a sponsored deal.

There are three ways in which this can operate: Via subscription, pay-per-listen (e.g., concerts) or opt-in (e.g., advertisers sponsor an event in return for demographic information while users register to listen for free).

Specific ads could be sent to specific radios using this technology.

Enabled receivers will theoretically be on store shelves in time for the holidays.

This is an interesting twist on HD and is, obviously, why the digital direction matters at all: It creates a flexible platform enabling all manner of data transmission, not simply more choices for music stations that sound better.

On the minus side, subscription elements make it much tougher to call a technology “free”. And packing more sophisticated functionality into a unit called a “radio” severely complicates the marketing communications process. What, in fact, are we selling?

This has always been the intended direction for HD radio, but it has to be executed with extreme finesse or it is unlikely to move the needle.

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