Fragmented audio offerings in hot competition


The 5th Annual Report on the State of the New Media by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) has a lot to say about financing journalism as well as where the field is heading. Yes, audiences are embracing new delivery systems and old media companies are trying to find new economic models that will work, but are investors and advertisers willing to commit their dollars? The repot notes that “the audience for radio is rising – and fragmenting,” with fierce competition to AM & FM stations from new audio devices – but no clear winners yet.

According to the annual study, wealthy and more educated groups tend to gravitate toward satellite radio. Car radio audiences still favor the AM/FM dial, but growing numbers are also using MP3 players and satellite radio while they drive. MP3 players and iPods, the clear winners for on-the-go listening, appear to span all demographics. And cell phones could become a growing factor in portable listening.
“The implication here is that the many audio devices are still in fierce competition for listeners, and for the advertising and subscription revenue that comes with them,” said PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel.

Among other findings:

* News, talk and information on traditional radio remain among the most popular categories. During an average week 16.1% of Americans in 2006, the latest year measured, tuned in to this format. And, on average, people spent a little over nine hours a week listening.

* Overall advertising revenue was down 2% to $21.3 billion for radio in 2007, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau. (But revenue from online concerts and events grew 10%, to $1.7 billion)

* The amount of news being broadcast on local stations rose slightly in 2006, according to the annual Radio-Television News Directors Association/Ball State news director survey, a recovery of the small dip seen in 2005.

RBR/TVBR observation: Study has some impact and also adds merit to what was said about radio during the recent 4A’s conference with consumer listening habit in-office. It is extremely large and radio has an opportunity by creating audio via the internet or their station websites. It was stated that many employers realize employees listen, view, even buy on-line while at work but still get their duties completed. Many have learned to live with it and if radio can create content to work by with advertiser sponsorships, not spots, it has just increased revenue and brand loyalty.  To prove our point, read the – Online radio reaches 33 million Americans per week, again proving the point we just made.