Just as people have adjusted their day-to-day living habits under a COVID-19 world, so too have they adjusted their listening behaviors. A series of client webinar surveys held by Nielsen looked at spending intentions, listening habits and perceptions about when the world will return to normal — and found that heavy AM/FM radio listeners may hold a key to kickstarting that engine.
The first key insights that the survey revealed is that radio listening is on the rise, that listeners are tuning in with greater frequency to news/talk formats and that those with greater spending optimism are more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners.
“Advertisers who seek to influence shoppers who are ready and willing to spend will find them listening to American AM/FM radio,” said Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer at Cumulus Media/Westwood One and author of the report.
One of the key findings: radio listening levels rose in the first few weeks of April after seeing a dip during the last few weeks of March. After all of those surveyed said they listened to radio in the first week of March, listener levels dropped significantly — to a low of 67% — in the back half of March as people began sheltering at home. But during the three-week period between late April and mid-May, those levels rose 22% to a high of 82%, perhaps as Americans began searching for information and news about the coronavirus.
The survey also found that the highest level of radio listening occurred during the weekend. “A major finding from Nielsen’s Portable People Meter data is the significant resurgence of crucial weekend listening which occurs as Americans run errands and shop,” Bouvard said.
Those trips to the store for supplies or food correlate with survey data by two geolocation sources: Apple Maps and Geopath. Both reported significant levels of driving trips and miles traveled.
Even during the regular weekday, the majority of listeners were consuming AM/FM radio when they’re out of the home. The study found that 58% of all U.S. AM/FM radio listening in the April PPM market survey was out of home, compared to 71% in March. In April, 27 of Nielsen’s 44 PPM markets had out-of-home listening volumes that were over 60% of total listening.
It’s probably no big surprise to reveal which station formats had the greatest share. When looking at the 45 different markets that were used in the survey, news/talk formats (both commercial and noncommercial) grew by double digit amounts in February, April and March. In February news/talk grew by 12%, in March it grew by 13.3% and in April it grew by 15%.
Nielsen also commissioned a separate survey of 1,000 Americans and asked them what their spending intentions were in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Nielsen identified three consumer segments with varying degrees of post-COVID-19 normalcy: those with a “wait and see” attitude, those with a “proceed with caution” outlook and those with a “ready to go” outlook.
The “wait and see” group were those consumers who do not believe that life is normalizing or that the economy is opening up. The “proceed with caution” consumers are those in the middle when it comes to resumption of the economy. The “ready to go” are those Americans most optimistic about a return to normalcy.
The study found that roughly one-third of those surveyed fall in the “ready to go” category feel positive about life returning to pre-coronavirus norms. Those individuals also had stronger spending intentions.
Across seven categories, the “ready to go” group had high-spend intention indices for purchasing within a month. Within a month, this segment said they were 29% more likely to spend on auto parts and repair, 47% more likely to spend on household services and 43% more likely to spend on home improvement. That group tended to be younger individuals who are employed with kids, work outside the home and spend a lot of time in their vehicle.
One of the study’s major conclusions is that those with greater spending optimism are more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners.
The survey found that heavy AM/FM radio listeners say they will spend more soon. Those individuals who fell into the “ready to go” group were 29% more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners.
Across various consumer categories, heavy AM/FM radio listeners are far more likely to indicate that they will be spending in the near term compared to heavy TV viewers, he said.
Radio bested TV in a number of subsequent areas including the percentage who expect to order take out within the near term, to visit a hair or nail salon, to plan a vacation, and to make a major purchase such as an appliance.
One third of those who referred to themselves as heavy AM/FM radio listeners also said they were more likely purchase an auto or home purchase in the next 12 months.
“There is a growing number of optimistic Americans who feel life is returning to normal,” Bouvard said. “These consumers are ready to be at the forefront of marketplace spending across dozens of categories.”
These high and moderate optimists and their growing consumer confidence are key drivers of the country-wide momentum towards a more normal way of life and spending, he said.
The post Radio Listening Audiences Rebound Despite Pandemic Impact appeared first on Radio World.
The coronavirus pandemic in the United States squashed any hopes for a good first quarter of 2020 for iHeartMedia.
The radio company reported late last week it saw a deep decline in advertising revenue in March as the COVID-19 pandemic intensified. Revenue through the first three months of this year was $780.6 million, down 1.9% year-over-year driven by the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Excluding political revenue, that dip was 4.8%, the company said.
The company, which announced sweeping modernization initiatives in February, suffered a $1.65 billion net loss in the first three months of the year, but that figure was in part caused by a readjustment of intangible assets tied to its emergence from bankruptcy in 2019, according to company officials.
The media giant reported its traditional radio business revenue declined by 5.2% to $461.6 million, and declined 8.3% excluding the impact of political revenue. Meanwhile, its radio network revenue, which includes Premiere Networks and Total Traffic and Weather, declined 2.6% year-over-year.
iHeartMedia, which owns about 850 radio stations in 150 markets, had about $647 million cash on hand at the end of March 2020, according to the financial report. It has also cut capital expenditures by about $80 million for the remainder of 2020.
Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, spoke on the earnings call and said the year started off with strong growth. “However, revenue began to fall off in March, as it did for most ad supported companies, and that trend became even more pronounced in April, with a sharp decline in ad revenue across almost all of our revenue segments,” Pittman said on the call.
Direct operating expenses for the media company increased 6.6%, driven primarily by incremental costs related to the company’s modernization initiatives, which were incurred mainly in January and February, according to the company’s report. Those expenses also included higher content costs from higher podcasting and digital subscription revenue and higher music license fees and digital royalties.
On the plus side the company says its digital revenue grew by 22.2% compared to the first quarter a year ago, driven by podcasting revenue, which saw an 80% increase.
Pittman says while national and local ad budgets were cut even further in April, advertising sales revenue is beginning to return in markets that are reopening. “Advertising overall and most of our advertising streams have seen a major drop, and the reasons are obvious. Many businesses are shut down. Businesses and brands needed time to rebuild their messages to be relevant in a completely changed world. And companies needed to save money, and many did so by reducing or eliminating ad spend,” he said.
iHeartMedia announced in April it was taking steps to trim about $200 million in costs from its business this year in response to the pandemic. The steps included employee furloughs, wage cuts other initiatives. The $200 million in cost-savings is in addition to $50 million in expected savings achieved through modernization initiatives.
Satellite radio is about to get an important boost in capability. U.S. car buyers will soon get their first look at the new 360L hybrid radio system from SiriusXM.
The company announced that the platform will debut in ten 2021 model year Audi vehicles that will be in showrooms this fall.
Hybrid radio systems combine over-the-air reception (in this case, via satellite) with online connectivity including streaming content (delivered in this case by Verizon’s 4G LTE network).
Combining OTA service with two-way connectivity has been a dream of many in the radio industry, and there are several initiatives underway to bring that kind of capability to broadcast radio as well. In that context, the launch of 360L seems an important differentiator for satellite radio in the dash.
In the announcement, Audi America’s director of connected services Pom Malhotra was quoted saying, “The choices provided by SiriusXM with 360L are nearly unlimited, and they help bolster our technology-forward position among premium automakers.”
Selling points include 10,000 hours of recorded on-demand content such as interviews, shows and live performances; more live channels; and personalized “For You” recommendations and the ability to search for related content.
SiriusXM with 360L will be standard on A6, A7, A8, Q7 and Q8 models, and standard in most trim packages for the A4, A5, Q3, Q5 and all-road models. Those should be in showrooms by fall; other models are expected to be added.
Rodney Pickett, SiriusXM’s senior VP of automotive partnerships, complimented Audi for its “long-established track record as a leader of in-vehicle technology.”
The post SiriusXM Will Debut Net Hybrid Radio System in Audi Cars appeared first on Radio World.
The dynamic podcast market will see an acquisition next month.
LiveXLive Media plans to acquire Courtside Group, owner and operator of PodcastOne, in a deal valued at $18.1 million. The deal is expected to close soon. PodcastOne leader Norm Pattiz will stay on in an executive role.
PodcastOne produces shows like “A&E’s Cold Case Files,” “The Adam Carolla Show” and “The Big Podcast With Shaq.” It says it generates 2.1 billion downloads a year and produces 350 weekly episodes. The company reported gross revenue of $27.5 million last year.
According to Robert Ellin, chairman and CEO of LiveXLive, this move will complement its music platform of streaming audio, on-demand video and live event performances. LiveXLive Media’s offerings include LiveXLive, a “live social music network” consisting of streams and on-demand programs from festivals like Rock in Rio and the Montreux Jazz Festival. In addition, LiveXLive plans to integrate PodcastOne into its music platform.
According to the two companies, 32% of Americans are now listening to podcasts on a monthly basis, with advertising revenue projected to surpass $1 billion by 2021.
The exact path of consolidation of the companies, both headquartered in Los Angeles, is to be announced. They did say that PodcastOne will bring in an experienced ad sales team, tripling the size of the LiveXLive sales force. However it also looks like there will also be cuts: “Planned consolidation of teams is anticipated to generate cost synergies and combine back-end support and office locations.”
The companies announced that PodcastOne’s founder and its executive chairman, Norm Pattiz, will join LiveXLive as a “significant” shareholder and remain as executive chairman of PodcastOne. Pattiz is best known as founder of the Westwood One radio network.
Under the terms of the agreement, LiveXLive will acquire 100% of the equity interests of Courtside Group and issue to stockholders of PodcastOne approximately 5.45 million restricted shares of LiveXLive’s common stock.
Beasley Media Group is beginning a reopening process today as parts of the United States feel their way toward next steps in the coronavirus crisis.
The company, which owns 64 radio stations and has several related audio and ecommerce businesses, announced over the weekend that it will “begin the approved gradual Phase One implementation of reopening its radio properties in states that have reopened for business” beginning May 1.
“Both the timing and safety measures for these reopenings will be based upon approved CDC, individual state and local government recommended guidelines,” Beasley stated.
“During Phase One, no more than 25% of each cluster’s individual workforce will be in the workplace at any given time.”
CEO Caroline Beasley described the company’s approach to the reopening as “very conservative, thorough and thoughtful.”
Two CBC Radio producers — one in Montreal and the other in Canada’s Far North — co-produced a national show for six months before they actually met. The May issue of Radio World International details how they successfully produced this radio show while separated by 2,000 kilometers.
This edition also features articles on the EU-funded HRadio hybrid radio project to deliver personalized, on-demand content to listeners; how the EBU head of technology and innovation imagines future infotainment systems in connected cars; the latest offerings in audio processing, and more.
Read the May issue of Radio World International here!
Prefer to do your reading offline? No problem! Simply click on the Issuu link, go to the left corner and choose the download button to get a PDF version.
EBU’s head of technology and innovation envisions the future infotainment system in connected cars
EU project seeks to deliver personalized, on-demand content to listeners
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
Ampegon Power Electronics highlights progress on the company’s third-generation solid-state shortwave transmitters, which it says will offer “significant advances in efficiency.”
The company says this work will pave the way toward higher-power broadcast outputs and meet current expectations of a shortwave equivalent to medium-wave and FM transmitters. “Combined, these two developments will bring FM-quality broadcasts with all the benefits of shortwave,” said Simon Keens, Ampegon sales and business development manager.
Ampegon has also developed a retrofit upgrade to current UCS generation control systems for previous generation 100 kW, 250 kW, 300 kW and 500 kW transmitter systems.
“Given that the lifetime of Ampegon transmitters is measured in decades, many systems currently in operation — previous ECAM and ECOS-II generation transmitters supplied under the names Thales or Thomson (Ampegon’s previous names) — either do not have DRM-ready control systems, or have a need for now-obsolete spares,” said Keens.
The upgrade promises to bring touchscreen technology, efficient PSM operations and “quick and precise” retuning with digital motor control to existing transmitters.
For information contact Ampegon Power Electronics in Switzerland at +41-58-7104-400 or visit www.ampegon.com
Earlier this month a news cycle was filled with stories of the U.S. appearance of the “murder hornet,” a superbug that seemed like yet another stress in an already tense period. Public media’s murder hornet may have arrived as well.
For nonprofit radio and television, revenue comes via underwriting. Underwriting is already pressed by COVID-19. So, when a murder hornet of a case — one that seems altogether different and dangerous — shakes up underwriting, community media must take notice.
A recent complaint to the FCC involving underwriting thus should be a particular concern, and a reminder that caution as well as courage is a must.
Current reports WUNC, based at the University of North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C., was the target of a filing in Washington. The FCC complaint alleges the station broke commission rules on underwriting language for spots by Duke Energy. According to Jim Warren, the complainant, the underwriter’s tagline is not value neutral, and generally promotional in nature. Warren cites FCC rules in claiming the announcements are misleading.
As FCC complaints go, this is fairly standard stuff. Where this story gets interesting is what’s not in the complaint.
It turns out Warren is a frequent public opponent of the underwriter, blaming the business for Hurricane Florence, among other alleged misdeeds. Although one certainly must accept at face value worries in the complaint about underwriting integrity, it may also be fair to wonder if this focus on a particular underwriter is selective.
UNC President Connie Walker told Current the spots follow FCC rules. At stake are thousands of dollars in fines the station would absorb during a pandemic, when few stations are in a good position to do so.
Here is where caution and courage come into play.
Language and underwriting have been on the FCC’s radar over the last 12 months. Most famously, the University of Arkansas admitted mistakes in underwriting copy, but several stations have been penalized for announcements that veered into commercial territory. Every community radio station should exercise care when crafting underwriting scripts. Calls to action, qualitative phrases and other prohibited terms are well established. There are also many items that are completely permissible. No station should be careless when airing underwriting spots. That urgency is only heightened if your station has an instance where someone has a disagreement with an underwriter and wants to take it to a higher power, namely the FCC.
Within community radio, differences over underwriting are not new. As a former program director, I fielded calls about bars, nonprofits and various for-profit businesses listeners took issue with. I expect most stations do not have to try hard to find listeners who disagree with any number of businesses. Many of us simply stay the course, knowing we are serving our audiences with the news, information and music they appreciate. if your station chooses to ride out pushback against your underwriting or editorial choices, you’ll find wisdom, compassion and commitment to media access are your best repellent.
Pew Research remarks we live in polarized times. Amid social distancing, community radio stations will be asked to be conveners of diverse listeners, their employers and many others. Our ability to unite everyone hinges on trust in following the rules and providing the best programming we can.
The post Community Broadcaster: Underwriting’s Murder Hornet appeared first on Radio World.
Digital Alert Systems is now offering a Software Assurance Plan for its line of emergency alert system devices. This plan will allow customers to ensure they are in compliance with current requirements via automatic notifications when new software is available.
The Software Assurance Plan is available to all customers running Version 4.0 software. With the plan, customers can immediately update to Version 4.1, with strengthened EAS/CAP security and compliance management, as well as new features in line with FCC compliance requirements. Future software releases will be automatically provided at no extra charge, including Version 4.2, which is expected to be available upon the release of Software Assurance Plan.
Additionally, Software Assurance Plan members will be able to receive discounts on repairs and additional software license keys. If a member’s current hardware is no longer supported, Digital Alert Systems says it will replace the hardware at a discount.
The post Digital Alert Systems Launches Software Assurance Plan appeared first on Radio World.