HD Radio Builds Monitoring Network

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More news from the NAB Show:

HD RADIO OPERATIONAL MONITORING GETS EASIER

For years, listener complaints have been the only way a station airing HD Radio might be aware of an operational issue. Analog and HD Radio digital signals might be out of alignment, or the wrong program service data might display on the receiver.

Sometimes listeners call the station; other times they call their local car dealership, which then contacts iBiquity Digital.

The 2015 Scion, Honda and Mini Cooper, from left, have HD Radio receivers in the dash. IBiquity Digital displayed eight cars at the spring NAB Show.

The 2015 Scion, Honda and Mini Cooper, from left, have HD Radio receivers in the dash. IBiquity Digital displayed eight cars at the spring NAB Show.

With approximately 25 million cars on the road with HD Radio tuners, developer iBiquity says it is trying to be more proactive. It has launched a monitoring network to help resolve station operations issues faster. The company says it wants to ensure that consumers have a good HD Radio experience.

“We’re at a point where we can’t rely solely on spot checks [by iBiquity] and consumers calling up the station. We need something to automatically monitor market-by-market,” said President and CEO Bob Struble in an interview.

“We don’t want to see Led Zeppelin’s name displayed for five songs” in a row on the receiver. “These things still happen,” he said, although stations are improving their response to operational issues.

The network is up and running in 11 of the top markets, including Las Vegas and Detroit. More market deployments are planned.

Struble said information is gathered from a network of remote listening stations and fed into a central data analysis platform that iBiquity developed. IBiquity worked with DaySequerra to deploy field monitors that feature automated error correction, and partnered with Media Monitors for monitor installation and maintenance.

The monitor “constantly” scans the dial in a market and alerts iBiquity if it detects an issue; in turn, iBiquity calls the station to notify it of the problem, according to Struble.

Data funneled into the platform will also feed www.hdradio.com and the HD Radio Guide App.

DISNEY GOES FM ON HD RADIO AD NET

Radio Disney will air on up to 60 HD2/HD3 stations airing on the HD Radio Ad Network, which launched in 2014; and iBiquity Digital has invited more broadcasters to join.

Struble said Radio Disney is seeking to expand its distribution footprint onto the FM dial and become more accessible. The core target of the brand are kids and their moms; a lot of those mini-vans have HD Radio, he said.

Radio Disney has been downsizing; in 2014 it said it would sell all its AM station holdings except its flagship, program originator KDIS(AM) in Los Angeles, to focus on programming and events. Radio Disney also programs a channel on SiriusXM.

The HD Radio Ad Network is an aggregated network of HD2/HD3 stations owned and operated by broadcasters like Beasley, CBS Radio, Emmis, Hubbard and Greater Media. Advertising sales on Radio Disney HD2/HD3 stations is managed by iBiquity’s HD Radio Ad Network ad sales team, based in New York.

The two companies also envision collaborative selling between Radio Disney and the network.

“We’ve built a way to push out ads through the studio automation systems” using an ad server, iBiquity Senior Vice President Marketing/Broadcast Business Joe D’Angelo told Radio World. The ad server inserts spots into the on-air programs; it also produces affidavits and invoices.

The ad flights vary, depending on whether an advertiser wants to buy the whole network or certain markets, according to D’Angelo. Network advertisers include GEICO, McDonalds, Best Buy and AT&T.

The rates have not been publicly disclosed.

Struble said the ad network is delivering revenue to its broadcast partners and the company expects more program distribution options soon.

HD RADIO TUNERS ON 200+ CAR MODELS

 In this screenshot, blue markers display 10 markets where HD Radio stations are monitored for operational purposes. An 11th market, Detroit, is not displayed.

In this screenshot, blue markers display 10 markets where HD Radio stations are monitored for operational purposes. An 11th market, Detroit, is not displayed.

More than 200 vehicle models offer HD Radio tuners and just over half have it as standard equipment in the dash, according to iBiquity Digital.

Several automakers announced new car features and several included HD Radio on new models on additional trim levels. The news came from the New York Auto Show just before the NAB Show in April.

HD Radio is standard on the new Nissan Maxima, Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Scion iM and iA. The technology is also offered on the Honda Civic, Kia Optima, Hyundai Tucson, Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota RAV4 and Lexus RX.

IBiquity Chief Operating Officer Jeff Jury called the automaker announcements “another step towards complete standardization of digital radio across North America.”

HD Radio technology is a factory installed feature from all major automakers in the U.S., according to iBiquity, including Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Ram, Rolls-Royce, Scion, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

Some critics have questioned iBiquity’s receiver penetration figures, noting that consumers may not realize HD Radio is among the myriad audio options in new infotainment systems.

MEXICO INCREASES ADOPTION

HD Radio adoption in Mexico is growing, iBiquity said, adding that retailers and automakers are looking toward a unified digital radio platform across Mexico, Canada and the United States.

That country’s rollout began in 2008 in Mexico City. More than 40 stations in Mexico use HD Radio technology. Thirteen stations in Mexico City deliver 24 additional HD2/HD3 channels, according to iBiquity Digital.

Government broadcaster IMER (Instituto Mexicano de la Radio) recently announced it upgraded its 13 FMs to include HD Radio technology. Another 30 stations have acquired equipment and await approval by regulators to begin operations. These stations join broadcasters like Uniradio in Tijuana and Radio Palacios in Sonora, on-air since 2008 and Oliva Radio, the first station to go on the air in Veracruz.

In Mexico, home and aftermarket HD Radio receivers are available from Alpine, Insignia, Kenwood, Pioneer, Sony and Sparc, with products ranging from entry-level car stereo products to portable radios. Brick and mortar retailers with products include Best Buy, Coppel, Liverpool, Sears and Famsa; and products are sold as well by online sellers.

Fourteen automakers — Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Infiniti, Jeep, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Ram and Toyota — offer HD Radio receivers in approximately 45 vehicle models sold in Mexico. About 200,000 HD Radio-equipped vehicles are on the road in that country.

AFTERMARKET MAKERS STANDARDIZE ARTIST EXPERIENCE

Just after the show, five aftermarket tuner manufacturers indicated they’ve standardized Artist Experience features on their HD Radio platforms.

Alpine, Clarion, Kenwood, Pioneer and Sony have shipped HD Radio multimedia and navigation receivers this year that display art and station logos matching the audio content on the unit’s display. Some 1,150 HD Radio programs are broadcast with Artist Experience support, according to iBiquity Digital.

The 2015 units by the five manufacturers receive HD2/HD3 channels and display program information like song title and artist.

In addition, Kenwood units support the bookmark feature and display QR codes for saved songs and programs. Three Pioneer models support emergency alerts transmitted by local stations, the newest HD Radio Artist Experience feature.

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