Streaming – Radio’s New Transmitter and Tower


When it comes to listening to AM/FM radio, “the next big thing” is something that’s been around for years – audio streaming. And as hi-speed Internet connections become commonplace, audio streaming represents broadcast radio’s best bet to successfully participate in the digital revolution.

In a new survey conducted among more than 21,000 members of rock radio email databases, there’s momentum for listening to traditional radio stations on computers and other devices. Of the various listening locations tested – at home, in vehicles, at work, and while walking around – three in ten (30%) say their radio listening on computers has increased in the past year.

Another striking finding is that the percentage of respondents who have never streamed has dropped from 50% in the 2005 Jacobs study to just 34% in this new survey. And now, four in ten respondents (39%) say they stream weekly or more frequently. This represents an increase from 32% over the past year, and a steady rise since this study was first conducted in 2005.

The most frequent “streamies” are fans of Alternative stations, and iPhone/Touch owners. Among this latter group, 45% tune in streaming audio outlets at least weekly, while nearly one-fourth (23%) do so at least daily. This finding strongly suggests mobile devices clearly enable accessing audio entertainment and information, and that AM/FM radio can be a primary beneficiary.

There’s more good news for broadcast radio. Among those who stream, their most frequent destinations are local radio stations. About half say they either listen to the survey station’s stream or streams from other local market stations.

Of the many Internet-only outlets available to “streamies,” the most popular is Pandora – mentioned by one-fifth (20%) of these streaming radio users – nearly doubled their 2008 score. Other sites, mentioned by at least 10% of streaming audio consumers include Sirius XM channels and iTunes radio channels (12% and 10%, respectively).

“For broadcast radio, if you build it, they will come,” comments Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs. “The brands that consumers know and trust terrestrially are one and the same on computers and phones. While streaming has its costs, for AM/FM stations, it’s like erecting a new tower and transmitter that creates availability to users of digital media.”