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Radio's Digital Adaptation: Part 1

Posted by Kelsey Danca on May 21, 2019 1:18:04 PM

At the end of Larry S. Miller’s 2017 in-depth report on radio’s necessary adaptation to the rise of digital, readers are left with strong parting words, serving as a warning to the radio industry:

 

...radio needs to invest in strong and compelling digital services.  If it does, radio can look forward to a robust future built on the strong foundation it already has in the marketplace leveraging the medium’s great reach, habitual listenership, local presence and brands.  If it doesn’t, radio risks becomes a thing of the past...”

 

The introduction to a more digital radio world really became apparent back in 2008, when listening to radio online started to gain popularity. Since its inception, listening hours have more than doubled - with listeners tuning in more than 14 hours a week (present day), compared to the 6 hours spent listening back in ‘08. Over the course of the last 12 years, AM/FM radio remained resilient as one of the oldest and most trusted mediums.  However, digital services simply changed the way people are listening to music, accessing news, and digesting information, inevitably weakening the system.


Currently, U.S. adults spend more than 11 hours a day with media, which includes, but is not limited to reading and generally interacting with media. Over the last year (2018), there has been a steady increase in media consumption, reaching 95% of the Millennial demographic, Nielsen reports.  Radio and TV are still the most consistent, with Radio alone reaching 92% of adults on a weekly basis.  However, it is worthwhile to note mobile & digital news consumption continues to grow, with a third of Millennial news viewers only being reached digitally. In fact, according to Nielsen’s Q3 2018 Audience Report, Smartphones are now used more than ever to stream audio content, while podcasts (19%) and satellite radio (16%) continue to gain prominence.


Notable reasons traditional terrestrial radio began to struggle in the midst of this digital transition was the following:

  1. Radio’s lack of understanding as it relates to digital advertising & how to sell digital radio
  2. Digital advancements such as smart speakers for the home, and “dashboard” invasion: i.e. improved technology in cars such as XM radio & the ability to stream your own music.T
  3. The inability to “connect” with Millennials & Generation Z 

 

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