I’m waiting for a solid argument that favors HD radio, but this one is anything but.
Note the following comments from Bernie Sapienza, iBiquity’s VP of Retail Business Development:
We don’t believe that there’s an if HD Radio will survive; we believe there is a when it’s going to be a popular every day product. The broadcaster conversion is well under way with roughly 1,000 stations already converted, and the broadcasters are spending $200 million to promote the technology this year. We have a $20 billion [broadcast] industry. It’s free to the public and has been around for 100 years. It’s ubiquitous; you can’t get in the car without thinking about turning on the radio. Now, think about that radio remaining analog in a day and age when every single electronic item is going or has gone digital and how can you possibly remain analog? It’s not logical. It really has to [go digital] in order to thrive as a medium in the next century.
Here’s the real-world reality check:
1. What we as an industry believe is irrelevant. If you believe the world is flat, that doesn’t make it any less round.
2. Stocking up the supply side is like filling a store with widgets under the assumption that if a store is full of widgets the consumer will buy them.
3. The broadcaster “conversion” really isn’t a conversion at all, since the analog existence of the radio station will persist. It’s more an “addition.”
4. Everyone in the industry knows that this “promotion” is in the form of airtime that would otherwise go unsold. Thus the out-of-pocket expense is actually zero.
5. The logic that radio can’t remain analog because everything else is digital is an argument about waves and bits rather than an argument about needs and benefits. Digital happens and succeeds, where it does, becuase it benefits the consumer.
6. As I’ve noted before, radio IS digital already. What do you call a podcast? What do you call an online radio “stream”?
This isn’t about going digital, it’s about maintaining control. And control is moving in the direction of the audience. Our job as an industry is to figure out how to ride that wave the way the consumer wants it. Only in that way can we profit from the trends before us.
The real danger is becoming distracted, focused on the wrong things. This will cause us to ignore or miss obvious opportunities. That will cost us dearly.
And anyone who cares about the radio industry should consider that carefully.