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Unspinning the latest New Media Usage study

Here is Radio Ink’s summary of a new Paragon study about Media Usage. See my un-spin below:

Paragon Media Strategies recently completed a study about new media usage and its effect on broadcast radio listening. The study determined that a majority of Americans (52%) have listened to an Internet radio station, one in five own an MP3 player and 8% subscribe to a satellite radio service. The study found that a majority of Internet radio station listeners are listening to broadcast radio about the same amount. Three-quarters of MP3 player owners are listening to broadcast radio about the same amount and 44% of satellite radio subscribers are listening to broadcast radio less, while 40% are listening about the same amount. Mike Henry, CEO Paragon Media Strategies, commented, “In terms of simple usage, Internet radio leads the pack among new media competitors, followed by MP3 players and then satellite radio. However, in terms of listening levels and a negative impact on broadcast radio listening, satellite radio poses a much greater threat. Internet radio usage is more common but for less hours tuned, while satellite radio has lower usage levels but with more hours tuned per user. After satellite radio and ahead of Internet radio, the second biggest threat to broadcast radio listening hours are MP3 players.”

My Take

One of the purposes of this blog is to straighten out the spin from surveys like this (and by the way, next time I put out a public survey I will do my best to un-spin it right here. Watch and see. Truth in advertising).

I don’t doubt this study means well, but there’s a big flaw here you should be aware of before you jump to conclusions.

First off, I have not seen the entire study or reviewed the methodology, but chances are you haven’t either. So given what we all have, we should understand what it means.

Lots of folks have listened to Internet Radio, but that doesn’t mean they do so regularly, let alone often. What you do OFTEN is what influences the REST of your behavior.

If you OWN an mp3 player or SUBSCRIBE to Satellite Radio you are much more apt to use those media OFTEN than if you have EVER listened to Internet Radio. So the conclusion that Satellite Radio poses “a greater threat” to conventional Radio than either of the other media is misleading. Talk to folks who use Internet Radio OFTEN and you’ll find that THEIR listenership to Radio is likely to be reduced as much as the subscribers of Satellite.

We’re confusing raw penetration with frequency of usage. That which you use more often is what substitutes for radio listening. If Internet Radio were to become, say, more convenient, more portable, simpler, etc., and if frequency of usage were to increase, radio listenership would surely be impacted.

Although Paragon recognizes the usage difference between the media, they don’t control for the impact of that difference on the effects of listening to Radio. Heavily used Radio alternatives will diminish Radio listening. Period.

So what does all that mean? That you can’t accept these conclusions at face value. Satellite Radio is not necessarily the biggest threat to Radio, as is claimed here.

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