HD Radio Initiatives: Today’s New Opportunities


Bob Struble, iBiquity Digital CEO, hosted an informative panel session yesterday at NAB on what stations can do to create advertiser sponsorship and listener engagement around HD Radio multicast programming; the latest data on sales and auto adoption; the latest new programming ideas and what the new Zune HD from Microsoft really means to consumers and broadcasters. Present were Javier Farfan (detailing plans and strategy on the new HD Zune), VP/Marketing, TV, Video and Music Business, Microsoft; Peter Ferrara, President of Corporate Relations, HD Radio Alliance; Jim Loftus, VP/GM, CBS Radio Philadelphia; and Mark Turley, Media Director, Pittsburgh Penguins.

Struble began the session by citing the latest HD radio sales and broadcaster data. He noted that while sales of HD Radios are sharply increasing, especially with the new portable Best Buy Insignia and Zune HD models, the economy and declining station revenues have slowed adoption a bit on the broadcaster side. “We’re selling millions, but we need to be selling in the tens of millions.”

Nonetheless, there are still numerous revenue-generating opportunities growing in the radio industry with HD Radio: HD2/3 ad sponsorship; music purchases with iTunes tagging; bandwidth leasing/brokered programming; traffic/navigation and new content plays such as WXDX-HD2 Pittsburgh’s upcoming full launch of The Penguins Channel, The Cowboys Channel in Dallas and ESPN Radio HD.

Struble said there are now 14,000 storefronts nationwide now selling HD Radios; 13 car brands are either offering HD radio as standard or optional.

The panel discussed some innovative uses of the HD2 multicast channels. Loftus said here in Philly Oldies WOGL-FM is (like 98 Rock in Baltimore) is promoting its HD2 channel “I love the 70’s” as a Sunday show on their HD1 signal. They are also streaming the HD2 on the internet with a true simulcast (no ad substitution).

They did a partnership on the channel with a local car electronics retailer/installer. The station awarded free HD car radios, which were, of course, installed at that retailer.

Loftus said they haven’t added staff yet for CBS Radio multicast channels but will be adding two for their upcoming Eagles Channel. He said for promotions/advertising, they’ve been doing short 10-second spots with retailers driving them to the stores and their HD2 and HD3 channels.

Turley mentioned they have hired two folks to run The Penguins channel—a producer and on-air announcer (From the New York Islanders). The channel is so far sponsored by Consol Energy and California University of PA, where the school’s Sports Marketing Program will be guaranteed two positions at the HD2 station per year. “We created a model like ESPN where clients get a lot of mentions and inventory.”

Turley will be selling logoed Penguins Insignia Radios at the Penguins team store as well. He expects the venture will break even for the penguins in Year 1, as part of a six year business plan with CC Radio in The Steel City.

Struble greatly encouraged stations to ask iBiquity about mass HD Radio deals for stations to promote them and give them away to listeners. Struble can get low price points for the stations. I.e. The insignia for $35 a piece, where it retails for $49.99. iBiquity wants to help in any and all ways, so feel free to reach out to him and/or his marketing team.