TagStation + NextRadio Insights An Update Series

A mid-October status report

Joe Puglise, president of Clear Channel Radio New York, in his introduction for the NYMRAD event at Ad Week a couple weeks ago said, “Forty years ago, well before the digital revolution, 93 percent of the population listened to radio over the course of the week… And last year in 2012, 93 percent of the population listened to radio over the course of the week.” That the same amount of people are still finding a way to tune in to our content should give us pause… and a feel-good moment as it sinks in. The where, when, and HOW people listen compared with 40 years ago is where our train of thought should jump when we consider connecting with today’s listeners. Radio has always aimed for convenience – an easy and entertaining way to get information or discover music quickly. Making people work to find you, rather than putting yourself in the palm of their hands, defeats that original intent.

“Radio needs to view these technical advancements as way to attract new listening and maintain the best listening environment for our live and local content. We have the opportunity to control our destiny and not be victims of these inevitable changes,” said GAB President Bob Houghton at the end of last month.

So here is our progress report as we continue the journey into uncharted waters toward an industry solution. Without further ado…

By the Numbers

  • More than 40,000 app downloads
  • An 84% app retention rate
  • More than 4,000 FM radio stations tuned to from the app
  • More than 12,000 hours of listening through NextRadio

There’s always a tempered excitement around these metrics, knowing there are so many external forces affecting them. But here are a couple things that worked to push these numbers in the right direction…

Show Press and a Release of Note

We continue to see and be thankful for positive press from our Radio Show session and the NYMRAD event at Ad Week. Especially resounding was hearing from Sprint’s VP of Product Development, David Owens, about upcoming devices.

“Every device we launch will include the NextRadio app,” he said during the NYMRAD event. “Tens of millions of [Sprint] smartphones will be preloaded with the NextRadio app.”

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And in that light, the latest device release from Sprint was the Samsung Galaxy Note® 3 last Friday. This was the first true NextRadio smartphone launch because the HTC One and EVO 4G LTE had already been in the marketplace before the app was released. It caused a marked jump in downloads, getting thousands of new activations in the first weekend of launch. In fact, there were twice as many device activations in the week following the Note 3′s launch than the week prior. In the next month, we’re looking at another handful of FM Radio enabled device launches with the NextRadio app. If we see the same exponential growth in downloads from each of those new FM smartphones, we’ll have a more vested foundation for audience activation.

Getting the Word Out to Listeners

On the consumer front, Sprint continues to be a tremendous partner. From interviews and panel discussions to collaborating with us on a NextRadio showcase for their website (expected launch next month at sprint.com/nextradio), the support, even financially, is being reciprocated. For example, Sprint has quadrupled their radio advertising spend this year when compared with the year before. This shows a significant amount of confidence in the project and the radio industry as a whole to deliver the content. Along with Sprint’s efforts, radio stations have started their own awareness campaigns. From dedicated websites and banner ads, to contests, tweets, and on-air spots, the positive effects can be felt almost immediately. Power 106 in LA has been running the most extensive and multi-faceted campaign, and in turn is now the most listened to station on NextRadio. If you educate your listeners, they will come. Because the consumer push has limited avenues, most regular people outside of our industry and the world of Sprint currently have no way of knowing about NextRadio. It’s all about spreading the word. We need all hands on deck for the pieces of the puzzle – product, content, and consumership – to come together and create that perfect and necessary storm.

“A great test case for FM chipsets is going to be Sprint’s efforts,” Chris Guttman-McCabe, EVP of CTIA, said to Congress, “If that sells and is successful, I have a sense that you will see it in many more phones — and if it doesn’t, you will see it in less. That’s how the market works from our perspective.”

As always, if your station is still on the fence, have a look at some of our videos, ask us your questions, and of course, our TagStation sign up page is there when you’re ready to jump on board. We’ll be back with another update soon.

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