A user-focused status report

Today we wanted to shift gears a bit and give you an update on the user feedback we’re getting about NextRadio. Providing metrics is a great way to show our progress at a glance, but it doesn’t paint the full picture of how it’s being received by the public. Though the app still enjoys a 4.3 star rating from users in the Google Play Store, we can learn a lot when we look beyond the stars to what the user had to say. We’ve also collected tons of valuable feedback from social media, from friends and associates test-driving the app, and from direct feedback to our customer support center. In the spirit of transparency, we’d like to discuss the two biggest criticisms of NextRadio, and how you may be able to help.

#1 Content?

“…The app is sleek and nice looking, probably does what it’s supposed to do, but seeing as none of the radio stations in my area are “participating” in sharing the track info, it’s not much better than the stock fm radio app that comes with my phone…” – Roy-Anders Larsen (3 stars) Google Play Store

“Hey! This is a really cool app! I am in the US Navy and I hadn’t listened to radio since I joined about 7 months ago until I downloaded NextRadio. The stations are a lot clearer than I anticipated. I would, however, love if you could develop a way to see what song is being played currently on that station. Thank you for giving me back radio! :)” – Arielle, NextRadio Customer Support Center

Feedback like this is heartbreaking, and it’s not uncommon. One set of users activated the app expecting to see album art and song data, and were truly disappointed due to lack of participating stations. Another set of individuals—potential power users—are very excited about FM radio on their phones, but they aren’t even able to recognize the intent of the app due to lack of content.

Quantity and quality of content will ultimately decide the adoption of FM in smartphones. It’s not enough to tell people that the content is coming. In the world of mobile apps, we have only one chance to make a first impression. We must give them compelling reasons to stay tuned the very first time they launch the app. Please visit tagstation.com/signup for information about delivering your station’s content to the NextRadio app.

#2 Earbuds?

“It’s a useless app if you have to plug in headphones to listen to the radio.”
– James Bryce (1 star) Google Play Store

“I would use it if I didn’t have to plug headphones in. Haven’t touched it since I found that out.” – James Plowman, Twitter


The headphones or an external speaker act as the FM receiver’s antenna. What we didn’t account for is that not everyone opening the app for the first time would understand that they are actually receiving an over-the-air FM broadcast. And even if that was understood, most weren’t aware of the hardware requirement. So we’ve changed the app’s messaging around the issue. From now on, in all future downloads and updates, when you try to tune without a headset plugged in, you’ll get an alert that explains why they’re necessary. It also explains that you can still output to speaker if you wish. Though it won’t solve everyone’s problem, we hope the attempt to educate will be well-received.

For more about how the smartphone’s FM receiver works, see our FAQ page. Paul McLane also had a nice write-up in Radio World about this topic. If your listeners have questions about using headphones, please let them know it’s for reception!

By the Numbers

Now for the fun part. We have reason to celebrate this week as we’ve reached an internal milestone. See if you can pick it out below…

  • Over 48,000 app downloads
  • An 84% app retention rate
  • Over 4,400 FM radio stations tuned to from the app – up 20% from last month
  • Over 17,000 hours of listening through NextRadio – that’s over 1 MILLION MINUTES!

What Affected the Metrics?

In addition to the excitement around the new Galaxy Note® 3, Sprint’s in-store marketing efforts have really taken off over the past couple of weeks. They include signage near the display phones and Muzak audio promotions, as well as staff trained to be able to talk about NextRadio with customers.

A couple
examples of stations
promoting NextRadio

Another force moving the dial are the station-level NextRadio awareness efforts from our 8 test markets. We’ve watched conversations on social media explode, seen dedicated webpages spring up, and heard fantastic audio plugs… We were also excited to see efforts coming out of stations outside of our test markets who have taken the initiative to spread the word in grassroots-style campaigns and social marketing. Thanks to everyone who has been involved, we can’t get this done without you!

Moving Forward

When it comes to NextRadio, we need to be our own biggest critic. We now have a small mountain of data to analyze, so it’s easy to see where our strengths and shortcomings lie. In regards to users, we’d really like to see our average daily user metric increasing at the same rate as downloads. But in order for that to happen, we need to give folks a reason to come back, feel comfortable, and make NextRadio a preferred way of tuning. We need to create value. This is something that can only happen when album art and interactive content are delivered for every radio station in America.

“In order to continue thriving, the radio industry has to keep evolving. Making FM radio stations available on smartphones — the place where more and more of our listeners access our stations’ content — makes perfect sense. That’s why Radio One is so proud to be part of NextRadio.”
Alfred Liggins, CEO of Radio One

In November, Sprint will be introducing five new NextRadio-enabled smartphones to the marketplace. As customers begin to make buying decisions based on its availability, let’s not deliver them an incomplete experience. If your users are asking for more information about NextRadio, our consumer-facing site is NextRadioApp.com. There they can see what makes it different from streaming apps, and find which devices are compatible. Also, they may visit sprint.com/nextradio or search Sprint’s smartphones with the FM Radio (NextRadio®) key feature checkbox at Sprint.com.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to listen to the feedback – what listeners want in the app and what you want in the data service. And we hope you’ll cast a critical eye on your own participation and find that this effort is worth it – for what the growing audience is now, and what the future holds. The TagStation sign up page has the info you need to get started, and if you’re already on board, consider calling us for a full license to engage your listeners.

We’ll be back soon with more!

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