Recent numbers from UK showing a decline in radio sets sales are sending a strong confirmation of something we’ve been explaining for years to radio operators (managers, program directors, news directors) : we are not in the RADIO business, but in the CONTENT business.
So what we produce is less and less going to be delivered by a dedicated channel. If we react well, we’ll be safely integrated into entertainement systems/platforms at home. If we don’t react well, our industry will shrink and shrink until it will not be of any interest anymore for advertisers.
Yes, radio still had that “exclusive” place in your car. But not for long. Digital dashboards are now being produced by Google, Apple and Microsoft. Then, there also, radio will become a simple content provider in the middle of millions of content providers.
We hear a lot of feedback from different countries telling us that radio-via-internet is not THE solution. Alright. I kindly listen to those people. After all, these are big guys with beards and beer-bellies, they should know what they talk about, right ? Except that the REAL PEOPLE (you know, your audience…) when they are not in their car… they listen to your station … well… online. You know, via IP / Internet. We hear a lot of feedback from different countries telling us that people’s mobile plans don’t allow for an intensive internet radio listening. I don’t know… my plan costs me 55€ per month, and it includes 4GB of 4G data (roaming in E.U. included !). And when I’m home or in the office, just like any other normal person, I use my home or office Wifi.
I don’t remember the last time I had an actual radio receiver in my bathroom. I exclusively use TuneIn radio app to listen to my favorite programs, and I do not see any reason why I would need anything else.
I strongly agree with James Cridland when he advocates for a smarter radio receiver with a smarter user-interface that will NOT show technical details to listeners. IP ? FM ? DAB ? Who cares ? Just let me listen to my favorite program !
But if I do agree, I think real life will bring us to a more radical solution. I think radio receivers (a box dedicated to consume only radio) are a thing from the past. I think that there’s no way for us to explain to end-users that “ok, you consume all your media on your phone/phablet/tablet, but, we, radio, huh… we need you to buy a dedicated thingy… that we’ve been producing since 1890…” REALLY?
We’ll see a constant decline in radio sets sales.
We’ll see more and more media content being consumed on THREE platforms, and three only :
2. Entertainment center in the living room
It’s up to us to decide if radio is linked to its traditional distribution channel (a wooden box with a tuning knob – and a magic eye?) and thus will die quickly, or if radio is just another content provider that will join the neverending stream of content reaching everyone 24/24.