LOS ANGELES�An article of interest to those of us in the business appeared in the LA Times last week. I think it�s safe to say that the article�s title ��Can NextRadio app help make radio relevant for a digital audience?��sums up the feelings of the writer. Still, the article brings up some interesting points.
�NextRadio also enables users to hear local radio on their phones without using up minutes or data in their mobile plans, providing an alternative to apps that deliver streaming radio through the Internet.
�The NextRadio app was developed and launched in 2013 by TagStation, a division of Indianapolis media company Emmis Communications, with partial financial backing from the National Assn. of Broadcasters, the Washington trade group. �NextRadio is getting an on-air promotional blitz with commercials running through the rest of the year on NAB member stations.�
��As the oldest of old electronic media, radio has held up reasonably well against the massive array of media choices that consumers have in the digital age. Nielsen figures from 2014 show that 91 percent of people ages 12 and older � about 242 million � listen to local radio each week.
That�s a fair and objective explanation, I believe. Here�s where reality sinks in though:
�But overall time spent listening � a metric vital to advertisers who want their commercial messages to be heard � declined in the fourth quarter of 2014. On a weekly basis, millennials ages 18 to 34 listen about two hours less a week than older segments of the population. It’s why NextRadio is pushing stations to use its app with Internet streaming so they can provide graphic elements such as album artwork, a ‘live guide’ that lists the music recently played, links to purchase song downloads, and local concert information on the artists.�
We have an ever-increasing number of entertainment sources that provide their service via the Internet�Apple Music is the latest�all competing for the attention of audiences, and all hoping to squeeze through a media that doesn�t appear to be getting bigger fast enough. The major gatekeepers (except Sprint, in this case) are not motivated to do us broadcasters any favors, by the way, when it comes to reaching smartphone listeners.
�Every cellphone is equipped with a chip that can be activated to receive FM signals. But carriers would prefer that customers spend more time � and money � on streamed data and services they are charged for� according to the same article.
�NextRadio has 2,000 stations signed on � including those owned by CBS, Hubbard Broadcasting, Entercom Communications and Cox Media Group � to provide additional information about their broadcasts through the app. Those stations can also use the technology to create digital ads for their advertisers. ��
The prospects for NextRadio show that our own means of unfettered access to our listeners�via over-the-air transmission, will continue to be of importance.� It seems obvious to me that this hybrid approach makes a lot of sense going forward.� �