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RAIN 04/28: Radio begins to assess the Pandora threat

Posted on: 04/28/2010


RAIN reported last week (here) that the new Jacobs Media’s Tech Survey VI showed rock radio listeners eagerly taking to smartphones, social networking, and streaming radio (especially Pandora). In a follow-up to the original study release, Jacobs is today taking an even stronger position on what Pandora’s emergence may mean for broadcasters.

“Radio broadcasters may think the competition is the radio station down the dial,” Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs said. “Pandora is emerging as the premier Internet radio station, winning new listeners and fans as streaming and mobile devices become popular. It is a threat to terrestrial radio.”

RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson, using Ando Media Webcast Ratings and Arbitron numbers, in his “State of the Industry” speech, estimates that Pandora already has a 0.8 share of all U.S. radio listening. By mid-year, he projects, that figure will be up to a 1.0 share (see video of his address at the recent RAIN Summit North here).

You can read some of the Jacobs study’s specific findings in the press release (in FMQB here). But based on those findings, Jacobs suggests that Pandora will likely see continued rapid growth thanks to its availability across a variety of platforms; its low spot load and breadth of musical options are clear advantages over AM/FM stations; and it’s quickly becoming an Internet de facto brand (like YouTube and Facebook). Even Pandora’s weakness — its lack of local context and live personalities — may diminish in importance as broadcasters streamline these elements out of their programming to compete in a PPM world.

Yesterday in RAIN (here) we reported that Edison Research’s Tom Webster, in his “Infinite Dial” blog, described the dangerous advantage Pandora had gained as a first-round partner in Facebook’s new Open Graph initiative. “Having already leapfrogged everyone else on mobile phones, Pandora is set once again to leapfrog its rivals by getting in bed with what is increasingly everyone’s home page on the Internet,” he wrote.

Audio4Cast’s Jennifer Lane doesn’t necessarily see all of this as a death sentence for Pandora competitors, however. “Pandora is building awareness and fondness for Internet radio and connected listening. They’ve done more to build audience for Internet radio than anyone else, both on a desktop and even more so on mobile devices,” she writes today in her coverage of the Jacobs release. “There are plenty of ways for other services to focus on their audience and develop best ways to give them what they want… Others should sharpen their swords and aspire to make their offerings as popular with their own audiences.” Read her column here.


The Wall Street Journal today reports how car makers are deepening the integration of drivers’ mobile phones into vehicle control functions — thus making the devices extensions of the dashboard.

“From remotely setting the temperature of the air conditioner to running mobile programs such as Pandora’s Internet radio service through the dashboard, smartphones are bringing their Swiss Army Knife-like capabilities to the car.”

Read the entire article from The Wall Street Journal here.


AirKast announced today that it has created and launched 57 new iPhone and Blackberry mobile apps for faith-based Salem Communications radio stations. AirKast expects another 14 Salem stations apps to go live by the end of next month.

AirKast is a Silicon Valley-based digital content and ad solutions provider for mobile and consumer electronics devices. Other AirKast radio customers include Greater Media, Alpha Broadcasting, Citadel Broadcasting and NextMedia.

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