The WABE Studios ATLANTA — Streaming media has long been viewed as an opportunity to diversify programming and build audience numbers, as well as loyalty. However, streaming media in our industry represents the evolution of radio as a signal platform. And as public radio stations like WABE(FM) seek to draw in new members through this evolving platform, it has become clear that there are opportunities to generate revenue through emerging technologies.
WABE is the NPR member station for Atlanta, reaching about 500,000 listeners per week over the air, along with a rapidly expanding online audience. As a dual-format station that offers news/talk and classical music, our Web presence gives us the opportunity to maximize that approach. Today, we offer three streams: a live stream of the terrestrial signal, and separate streams offering classical music and news/talk/information 24 hours a day. We also offer a mobile app that is a mashup of our radio streams and online news.
With limited in-house resources devoted to our digital media efforts today, reliability in streaming is crucial in order to focus our attention on generating content and strategizing new digital media initiatives. StreamGuys have come through for us to serve as our content delivery network.
We first began working with StreamGuys several years ago after being introduced at the annual iMA public media event, which brings together public broadcasters and supporting vendors and partners from around the country. StreamGuys’ strong track record in the radio industry, including a loyal group of public radio broadcasters, seemed to be an ideal match for our station.
StreamGuys has helped to evolve our online strategy since launching our initial streams. This includes a transition from MP3 streaming to the higher-quality aacPlus format, which provides our online listeners with a more pleasant listening experience.
My job as digital media strategist is to explore new opportunities that evolve how the station presents itself online. Collectively, we refer to it as “digital storytelling,” but the initiative comprises several key advances that address the burning question: How do we make digital a more robust and revenue-generating channel for our content?
From a robust perspective, StreamGuys provides a stable streaming architecture at its core that provides a consistent online experience. Furthermore, its use of one-to-many server technology ensures that we can support many formats at reasonable costs — expanding our reach to iOS and Android mobile devices. Mobile audience growth is of major significance to our continuing strategy, and StreamGuys’ support allows us to better serve listeners on the move.
The most notable recent development is our integration of AdsWizz digital ad insertion technology, which StreamGuys offers as a service within its architecture. It’s our belief that this technology provides us and other public media broadcasters with a good opportunity to generate revenue through online properties.
We currently use the AdsWizz technology to support pre-roll advertisements. Our underwriting department — the department closest to the content — manages the AdsWizz operation, handling creative insertions, timing and all associated activities. The software offers an intuitive, easy to use interface for uploading and managing ads, as well as for monitoring performance.
To the latter point, AdsWizz offers 15 targeted reports that allow us to set specific parameters to measure the success of our online advertising initiatives and forecast future opportunities. This includes a planned extension into mid-rolls, which we see as the next growth opportunity revenue-wise.
Speaking of reports, StreamGuys offers several of its own to measure and monitor online audience statistics. To date, we have only used the very basics, notably leveraging SGReports software to generate and analyze raw audience numbers. We study the trends and leverage the numbers for quarterly reports to NPR. In the near future we expect to explore more of the audience measurement capabilities in the software, drilling down to more specific audience statistics that cover geography, time spent listening and other figures.
Moving forward, we also expect to explore opportunities that StreamGuys offer for on-demand audio as well as streaming video. We understand that online radio listeners relate to video, and when packaged intelligently it enhances the overall user experience.
One final point to highlight is the superior customer service that StreamGuys provides. Whenever a technical issue arises — and it’s rare — StreamGuys is quick to respond and offer a solution. This past Labor Day weekend, I arrived home at 7 p.m. following a five-hour road trip and was immediately greeted by emails signaling a technical problem. We sent an email to StreamGuys and received an instant response.
We rely on this level of customer service and troubleshooting given our limited digital media resources. It was comforting to receive such quick attention in the evening hours of a holiday weekend — StreamGuys’ assistance helped us pinpoint the problem in this case as a hardware issue on our end, which we were able to resolve quickly.
For information, contact Jonathan Speaker at StreamGuys in California at (707) 667-9479 or visitwww.streamguys.com.