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Only 4% of the US says they are “very likely” to buy HD Radio

Here are more spicy tidbits from American Media Services’ random and representative national study. Today, the topic is HD Radio.

Here’s the question:

“HD Radios are a new technology that allows you to listen to your favorite AM and FM stations in digital quality sound. This technology will improve the audio reception. Before today, had you heard about HD Radio?”

My comments: First, this question is bad. It stresses all the wrong attributes. How you describe something has everything to do with how that something is received. In this case, it’s not surprising 38% say “yes.” I have done my own research on this topic and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that listeners may hear “HD radio,” but what they are understanding is “HD TV.” So when 38% say they’ve heard of HD radio, what they’ve really heard of is HD TV. There is no question about this, and it raises serious issues about technological nomenclature.

“How likely would you be to pay a one-time charge of $100 to be able to listen to HD radio?”

My comments: Again, bad question. What, exactly, am I paying for? It’s never explained that I’m buying a new radio. What if I don’t want a new radio? Further, “be able to listen to” implies a positive bias. Finally, a $100 price point is certainly a best-case scenario. Interestingly, when the Satellite Radio questions were presented the price point was phrased with a slight negative bias this way: “normally over $100.” The reality, of course, is that you can get a Satellite Radio for LESS than $100 while you can’t find an HD Radio for anywhere near that sum.

Anyway, the answer: 4% of the sample say they’re “Very Likely” to pay the charge for HD Radio.

Is that a big number or a small one? If you’re talking about Satellite Radio subscribers it’s huge. If you’re talking about the radio industry it’s utterly anemic. In fairness, of course, listeners are being asked whether they want to pay for a product that is very poorly described and with which they have zero familiarity. To judge whether or not you want to buy a technology product that plays entertainment media, you need to know what media content can or will come on that product.

So is the problem the name, the question, or the actual product? And what does the radio industry do about this?

Tomorrow, iPod and mp3 player usage.

Thanks again to American Media Services for providing me a copy of this fascinating research.

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