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Radio’s Tablet Future

To understand the future you have to understand the folks who will populate it, especially those folks coming into demos that matter – and those are the so-called Millennials, the 76 million Americans born between 1978 and 2000 who today are between 12 and 34 or so.

Check out these important facts about millennials – especially millennial tablet owners – from Magid Associates:

  1. Slightly more than half of all tablet owners are Millennials.

  2. Thirty-five percent of adult Millennials own a tablet. Nearly half of all males in this group own a tablet—that’s higher than any other gender/generation break.

  3. Millennials are more likely to have a tablet than to own and regularly use personal digital media players without wifi (think older-generation iPods), netbooks, HD radios, satellite radios or e-readers. They are just as likely to have a tablet as they are to have a handheld gaming device or Blu-Ray player.

  4. Male Millennials are about as likely to have a tablet as they are to have a DVR in their home.

  5. More than half of Millennial-owned tablets are iPads; one in ten are Kindle Fires.

  6. In a broad sense, the tablet has more utility to the Millennial owner. They think of it as much more than an entertainment, information and communication device. It’s also an organizer, media storage unit, work device, social networking tool, style statement and recorder/documenter.

  7. Two in five Millennial tablet owners regularly get sport scores on their tablet.

  8. One-third of Millennial tablet owners regularly use their tablet at work. Half of Millennial tablet owners regularly use their tablet in their living room/family room/den during primetime on weeknights.

  9. Millennial tablet owners multi-task. Forty percent regularly cook or bake while using their tablet, 38% watch TV, 27% get ready/get dressed, 32% do housework, 22% go shopping at a store and 41% talk on a cell phone.

While penetration of tablets obviously can’t compare to penetration of mobile phones (and even smart phones), the trends clearly favor more control on more screens in more places for more consumers.

Notably, Millennials are more likely to own or use tablets than HD radios or satellite radios. We can assume they’re more likely to own and use the conventional radio than a tablet, but given the role that tablets play in their lives it’s clear that these devices (like mobile phones) will steal attention and usage away from radio unless radio’s “ideas” are integrated into the experience of these devices.

Never one to sit on the sidelines in the face of digital opportunities, CBS Local Digital media this week released a new app called “YourDay” which aggregates “a steady stream of local sports, news, lifestyle, weather and traffic information, all of which can be shared by Facebook, Twitter and email” for each of CBS’s local markets.  It is the equivalent of a “local news and lifestyle” site, powered by CBS’s digital assets.  This is only one illustration of a broadcaster trying to be where the market is rather than where it may wish the market to be.

It’s not just about apps, of course, since a traditional web-based experience has a lot of utility on a tablet.

But the point remains:  Usage will follow attention – and attention is gravitating to tablets and mobile devices which solve a host of entertainment and practical problems for consumers.  And this usage will come at the expense of all other media and tools these consumers use, including radio.  So the challenge for radio is to compel attention in order to compel usage, and to do so on whatever platform I, the consumer, choose.

And you do this with great content across platforms that leverages the relationships you have with your consumers and advertisers today.

To do otherwise, to rest on our laurels, will result in less attention to radio (regardless of its form) and less interest in what it provides.

This is a time of great opportunity, but only for those who rise to the challenge.

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