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In-Car Streaming to Rise, But Listeners Find Systems Clunky

Challenges, opportunities for in-car streaming explored in study

The future digital dash may have five buttons — and at best, radio will get two of those.

Also, people already are listening to Internet streams from broadcast radio in the car; and they will pay for a better solution than plugging in their cellphone to accomplish that.

These are takeaways from a recent survey of streamers by new media research company Know Digital.

In a webinar today, the company discussed the challenges and opportunities for in-car streaming. It says it spoke with “dozens” of people in several age groups, getting them to detail how they listen to Internet streams in the car and how they’d like to.

The company defined streamers as those who listened to a traditional radio stream in their car at least five minutes a week.

Know Digital said 71% of the streamers it talked to already are listening in the car, most using their cellphone plugged into the dash. But many find the cord or FM transmitter solutions clunky and said they would pay maybe $200 or less for an in-dash solution, even an aftermarket product, because they keep their cars longer.

Many of those surveyed, about 90%, said they still listen to radio, especially for content they perceive as unique, like morning shows or news, traffic and weather information.

HD Radio was not mentioned by participants. Satellite radio was mentioned only by a few, according to Know Digital spokesman Sam Milkman.

And as far as radio getting only two pre-sets in the digital dashboard of the future, it’s a far cry from the days when FM could count on five pre-sets among average car listeners, he said. For stations, he said, “It means you need to build your brand now and protect your space in the dash.”

Based on the results, he predicts in-car streaming is likely to increase.