What Happens to Radio?
Radio has lost just around 15 per cent of its 'listening time' over the last ten years in the 15-25 age group - but it's increased its reach over the same period.
Compare that to the disaster stories at newspapers and broadcast TV stations, and radio looks a pretty strong medium. Think about what didn't exist just five years ago: no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter, no Last.fm. With all that appearing, and the big problems at newspaper and TV stations, isn't it surprising that radio remains so strong?
Nonetheless, while fifteen per cent may not sound like a big deal, if that came off your wage or your company's bottom line this year, then you'd probably notice pretty hard. Many younger people are looking for something different and maybe something more interactive. But, at the same time, radio is popular because it is an ambient media - you don't have to pay attention. So how do you square that circle?
So where are the pain points?
• Within the advertising industry, many view radio as some sort of boring old media that no-one cares about any more. "The kids are all just on the net", etc. The truth couldn't be further away. The most modest of local stations has hundreds of thousands of listeners - statistics that clearly shame the likes of Pandora and Last.fm. Yet they get all the headlines, and love from media planner/buyers. How can radio be sexier?
• DAB digital radio is popular with retailers and consumers, but can cost broadcasters between two and five times more to re-broadcast the same content. Is this an albatross or the future of the media?
• People aren't buying radios any more - more often than not, they're consuming radio via television, mobile and computers. Yet, there's so little being done to exploit these new models of consumption. What does the industry need to do to enrich the radio experience?
• Moving beyond Advertising. As many media owners have discovered, the advertising market is pretty fickle. Can digital iterations allow for better alternative revenue streams?
• Making an ambient media more interactive. We listen to radio in the background, so is interactive a complete red herring? Most modern broadcasters would argue not.
4th December 2008