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Streaming May Not Be Big Threat

Wells Fargo Analyst Marci Ryvicker calls NextRadio “game changer”

Digital streaming competitors may not be as big a competitor to traditional radio as first thought, and NextRadio is the next big potential catalyst for the industry.

These were the overall themes from executives from Cumulus Media, Emmis, Entercom and Entravision who discussed business at the Wells Fargo event for Wall Street analysts Thursday in New York City.

The radio company executives stressed that the economics of digital streaming are “very challenging,” and that their digital streaming competitors make up a very small portion of overall listening, according to a client note summing up the results from Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Marci Ryvicker. For example, Pandora makes up 7% of total listening while traditional radio makes up 11–12 times that number, according to the analyst.

Sprint has the bulk of the smartphones with embedded FM capability. “While deals with other carriers were not mentioned, we would remind you that both Verizon and AT&T also released FM-enabled smartphones several months ago this year,” stated Ryvicker.

She calls NextRadio a “game changer. In fact, one team member using NextRadio on his Sprint phone said, in as genuine a tone as I have ever heard, ‘This is really, really nice.’ He’s 24.”

Separately, FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake said as part of the quadrennial review, Chairman Wheeler plans to circulate his media ownership rules Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in mid-2016.