“My Internet Radio Stream is Bigger than Yours”

Here's a piece from Inside Radio so chocked full of inaccuracies that I'm going to address each of them in turn.

Buzz aside, terrestrial webcast usage tops internet pureplays. A pair of recent studies shows that online radio listeners prefer pureplay internet radio stations over the streams of terrestrial stations. But unpublished results from Edison Research and Arbitron’s 2010 Infinite Dial survey obtained by Inside Radio paint a different picture. The researchers found that 47% of Americans 12+ have listened to the stream of an AM/FM station, more than double the amount (22%) that have ever listened to “online audio from internet-only sources.” 

Actually, this has nothing to do with "buzz" and everything to do with facts, as measured by the 100% accountable statistics published by Ando Media.

Unlike the competing sources, Ando's numbers are not estimates.  These are not polls. These are not opinion surveys.  These are not samples. These are accurate accountings of all stream usage among all the pure plays and broadcasters who allow their usage data to be measured by Ando, and that's most of them.

And those data routinely show that the usage of Pandora outstrips usage of terrestrial radio streams, even when you aggregate some of the top radio groups together.

The numbers vary by month, but I wrote about the December results some time ago.  And at that time there were as many users tuned to Pandora as to CBS and Clear Channel combined.

More from Inside Radio:

A finding from a separate Jacobs Media online poll of rock radio listeners showed a similar preference pattern: more than half of respondents who listen to pureplay webcaster Pandora (55%) said that it is better than most commercial radio music stations. “There’s a difference between the perception or attitudes that people have, as opposed to their behavior,” Rose says. “It’s very possible that just because radio stations have a bigger, broader bully pulpit driving people to their streams, they can have a bigger audience. That doesn’t necessarily mean that when people are listening to it, they feel better with that content than the other.” 

The conclusion about the "bully pulpit" strikes me as conjecture.  Yes, the pulpit is potent.  And it's massive.  But if we learned anything from the HD radio promotional debacle it's that listeners do what is in their best interests – they do what they want – not what we may want them to do.

And the fact is that the vast majority of terrestrial radio streams are redundant to what's already over the air, available throughout the market, and freely and easily accessible on every one of the five radios you have in your home, work, or car.  So I should go to your stream….why, exactly?

Pandora, on the other hand, is redundant to nothing and complimentary to everything.

No wonder it's "better" than the local radio station.  If you could tailor a station to your own personal music tastes, isn't it likely to be "better?"

So fuzzy and imprecise recall for what I may or may not have listened to online – assuming I even understand the interview question – is no substitute for facts as measured through an accountable source. And it's no basis for any conclusion about who holds the greater sway in the world of online radio.

That said, why does it matter so much to us who holds that greater sway?  Our job as broadcasters is to satisfy more listeners in more ways and link them with more clients more effectively.  Our job is not to compare what we bench press with Pandora's Tim Westegren.  Let's get over it, and get on with business. Do we need to devote more attention to what we stream and how we are meeting consumer needs in that space?  Yes. So let's do it then.  

Again, Inside Radio:

Pandora’s ascent to the top of Ando Media’s internet radio ratings has also helped fuel the perception that consumers prefer pureplays over terrestrial streamers. But of Ando’s top 20, 18 are over-the-air broadcasters. “What Jacobs forgets is that radio stations are local and Pandora is national, just like Sirius XM,” Southern California Broadcasters Association president Mary Beth Garber says. “Even the big groups don’t have radio stations that stream the same thing in every market and none of them cover every single market.”

Jacobs didn't forget anything because the conclusion itself is incorrect.  Pandora is not national – Pandora is personal.  It's not about national vs. local, it's about "ours" versus "mine."  Pandora is not "one thing."  It's more than 50 million things – at least one for every registered user.

Yet another reason to stop pumping fists and engaging in pointless debates and start leveraging our strengths in the important world of online radio.

Or, if you want to be assured the online radio sky isn't falling, I'm sure I can find a blue sky survey somewhere out there.

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