|Radio's Big Reach
Nielsen – Radio has “93% reach, the largest reach of any platform.”
Expect to hear group heads, researchers and sellers pound that statistic. Nielsen’s new “Total Audience Report” of radio, TV, Internet use, smartphones and more offers a benchmark for future surveys, and Nielsen’s news for radio is that “radio and traditional television still have the largest reach of any of the platforms analyzed. Specifically, radio reaches nearly 223 million adult listeners weekly, and television reaches over 209 million adult viewers.” To Cumulus Chief Marketing Officer (and former Arbitron exec) Pierre Bouvard, that means “Radio beats TV in reach among 18+, 18-34 and 35-49.” He says “radio’s reach advantage over television (93% to 76%) is significant.” And he says “Hold your heads high, we work in America’s #1 reach medium.” Meanwhile, the TVB’s Steve Lanzano spins the Nielsen numbers quite differently – “The Total Audience Report confirms Americans’ superior and consistent preference for television over all other media.” He’s looking at a different page of the report, about traditional TV pulling four hours a day (counting time-shifted fare). To Lanzano, “adults 18+ are using three times as much television each week as the second-most-used medium, radio, and seven times more than third-ranked PC usage.” So the TVB declares victory on time-spent. How’s radio doing with that? Better than you might suspect –
Radio’s daily time-spent holds up pretty well.
Nielsen says listening to AM/FM radio was 2 hours and 48 minutes in the first quarter of 2013, then 2:46 a year later, and now 2:42. That’s down six minutes a day over a two-year span – or a loss of about 3%. Meanwhile, “Live TV” is down from 5 hours 11 minutes a day to 4 hours 55 minutes. That’s a 5% loss. Time-shifted TV is still a small category, but it’s up from 29 minutes to 35 minutes. The device to watch is the smartphone, with daily usage zooming from 58 minutes in 2013 to an hour 27 minutes – about a 50% gain in just two years. Time spent “Using the Internet on a computer” was up slightly, from 1:03 to 1:07 – so the growth’s really occurring in mobile, via smartphones. If you probe further, you see substantial differences in radio’s weekly usage by age, and that would be something to worry about. Americans age 2+ are averaging about 12 hours and 14 minutes a week with AM/FM radio. But teens are down at 7:06. (Though teens have been lighter users for years.) Plenty to glean from this new Nielsen “Total Audience Report” covering radio, TV, DVD/Blu-Ray, game consoles, computers, smartphones and other media. Download the report (with free registration) here.
Google Play Music adds a free version.
Surprise - Google tosses more chips on the table by creating a freemium model, adding a free tier to its $9.99 paid service. So the competition to secure eyeballs and ears for online music gets more and more furious. Lisa Eadiccio of Business Insider explains that the new free level of Google “won’t let you pick specific songs like the paid version, but instead will let you choose from a wide variety of human-curated and incredibly specific playlists – more like Internet radio with dozens of DJs than a music-on-demand service.” Google acquired its bench of music expertise a year ago when it bought Songza.
Big weight lifted from 14 groups using iBiquity’s HD Radio tech.
iHeart, CBS, Cox, Cumulus, Entercom, Hubbard, Radio One, Townsquare and six more groups are off the hook in the patent infringement suit that was lodged in Fall 2013 by Wyncomm/Delaware Radio Technologies. The suit said the ’866 patent that (ironically) was once owned by iBiquity predecessors AT&T and Lucent meant that stations using HD Radio technology were infringing – and it wanted money from each. Wyncomm/DRT didn’t sue iBiquity directly, though, and eventually iBiquity filed its own suit. That was resolved last month. Now Radio World says a federal judge in Delaware has dismissed the suit against the 14 group owners at the request of the parties. We don’t know the terms and possibly even the judge doesn’t know them. Though it was dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning it can’t be re-filed. Each party will bear its own costs, which could be considerable. Many folks in the radio community denounced the Wyncomm/DRT suit as an attempt by a patent troll to wring money out of end-users who didn’t want to fight. iBiquity’s claim was simple – that the patent was invalid.
iHeart chips in part of the $21 million in new funding for Jelli, the programmatic buying specialist.
iHeart’s Bob Pittman is over-the-top committed to programmatic buying, for both the 850+ iHeart stations and the Katz national sales rep (April 9 NOW). Bay Area-based Jelli began by offering client stations the chance to power their playlists using social media, then pivoted two years ago to become a programmatic buying platform. It just closed on a Series B round of financing fueled by iHeart, Universal Music, Relay Ventures, Intel Capital and First Round Capital. Jelli’s Mike Dougherty has so far raised $37.6 million. He says “by powering iHeartMedia and Katz Media Group’s networks, we are enabling broadcast radio to participate and make buying an audio ad as easy as buying a digital ad” – online, employing an automated exchange.
Chess match in Chicago over baseball – Cumulus lands the White Sox for talk WLS (890).
The next move on the board, says Robert Feder, could be up to CBS. It’s losing the American League White Sox from all-sports “670 the Score” WSCR. But it has the option under its contract with the National League Cubs to shift them from all-news WBBM/780 (though not usually-simulcast WCFS/105.9) to the Score. CBS has the one-time right to do that, effective with the 2016 season. Those moves would mirror what happened with CBS in New York, where it once had both local baseball teams, lost one (the American League Yankees) to iHeart-owned talk WOR/710, and replaced them on all-sports WFAN-AM/FM (660/101.9) with the National League Mets. In Chicago, CBS-owned The Score had the White Sox since the 2006 season – and this time faced bidding competition Cumulus as well as the former home of the Cubs, Tribune’s talk WGN (720). Feder says the six-year WLS deal is expected to be “finalized this week.”
Knoxville station owner is busted on cigarette-tax fraud charges.
The stakes are especially high, since the FCC won’t let a convicted felon be a licensee. Joe Armstrong was highly visible in his community as a 28-year rep in the state legislature. Also as a businessman whose interests include R&B oldies/gospel/Tom Joyner and D.L. Hughley-talk WJBE Powell (1040) plus a translator at 99.7. Joe’s denying the charges brought by a federal grand jury involving an alleged tax fraud scheme. WBIR-TV says the grand jury indicted Armstrong over “a scheme involving the sale of state cigarette tax stamps…Armstrong and other ‘co-conspirators’ bought the stamps at one price and then sold them at a profit.” There was a second area of serious violations, where Armstrong allegedly tried to conceal the profits, to avoid paying taxes. The scheme allegedly ran from 2006 to 2013. Armstrong says “this investigation has been ongoing for a number of years…I look forward to addressing these allegations and the truth coming out in the very near future.” WBIR says in the 1970s, Armstrong “worked at the original WJBE, owned by ‘Godfather of Soul’ James Brown.”
Are higher ratings Voltair magic – or is it just seasonality?
“It’s just like high tide and low tide,” says Mark O’Neill of ROI Media Solutions, referring to his own patient year-over-year observations about the seasonality of overall audience levels in PPM markets. Specifically, he’s talking about the ups and downs of PUMM – “Persons Using Measured Media.” He says “If you take a market like Baltimore, if you’re not up 26% with the 18-34 demo from January to May, you’re not with the market.” That’s simply the historic pattern of that market with PUMM (what we call “Persons Using Radio” in diary markets). So if a station plugged in the Telos Alliance/25-Seven-built Voltair processor in January or February and witnessed a nice double-digit rise – well, they should, based on normal patterns. Like all researchers, O’Neill cautions about the difference between correlation and causality. If a Voltair-using station is up, was it because of that black box, or was it going to go up anyway? He says “You have to look at stations and see when they put on the Voltair box.” And getting that information from a station may take a Chinese Army computer hacker, because Voltair users have clammed up, during this period of uncertainty about how Nielsen will view Voltair. Many radio folks have called for testing, which we know is underway in Canada. But Canada’s Numeris consortium uses the PPM device under very different rules, producing minute-by-minute instead of the American quarter-hour measurement.
“If I were going to design a test of Voltair, there would be three aspects.”
Mark O’Neill again of ROI Media Solutions. First, his outline of those “three aspects” of a test - “#1, Does deploying the Voltair box cause the PPM system to pick up more codes? #2, If there are more codes, does it change the credited result when run through the editing process? And #3, There are many factors at play in ratings fluctuations. How does the general January through May rise in AQH for stations with and without the Voltair box compare to the seasonal rise in audience levels across the board?” Here’s more detail - “Step One would be using two PPM meters, one with the standard Nielsen firmware, the other one keeping every single code.” Let’s pause to let O’Neill explain that in Nielsen’s PPM world, “A code goes out every 4.8 seconds, and it has a quality indicator. Every 15 seconds, it saves the last-best code. That’s shipped back to the mother-ship,” and he says whether you encounter one, two or three codes in that 15-second interval, you still get credit for that quarter of a minute. Back to O’Neill – “In this test, you’d do 90 minutes with Voltair on, and rebroadcast the identical content with it off. Will it pick up something different from just keeping the last-best code? It’s possible that with Voltair, it’s getting a last-best code earlier, sooner. So then run that through the Nielsen edit process.” He says “there are 180 codes during the course of a 15-minute period. Would having Voltair on have made a difference?” His Step 2 to push it through the Nielsen code attribution and edit process – “If there is a difference in the number of codes received, does it make a difference when processed through the edit rules?” Step 3 would be comparing to what you read in the previous story, the “natural seasonality” of markets. O'Neill says “a test like what I outline would remove the speculation about Voltair.” He adds that “only Nielsen can do that test, or oversee it.” Though he says “somebody like iHeart or CBS could take the date the Voltair box went on one of their stations (if indeed they are using them) and plot their AQH results against PUMM. Then tell me if the ones that have Voltair, plotting against the stations that don’t have it, out-performed.”
More Voltair – read the four-page explanation by Dr. Barry Blesser.
The Telos Alliance has posted the piece by former MIT Professor Barry Blesser about its success, and what we should make of it. Yesterday’s NOW Newsletter ran a story with this headline - “The way the radio industry handles the Voltair controversy will influence its likelihood of surviving.” Those are Blesser’s own words. Now you can read his thoughts about Voltair online here. Blesser’s been working on the concept for Voltair since 2009 or so, and it was March of 2014 when Telos Alliance member 25-Seven first experimented with it on a suburban station in a PPM market. That was very quietly followed by a test on a larger station beginning in May 2014. You’ve been reading about it here since last December.
Norm Feuer, veteran owner/operator, will be stuck in the ICU for 3-4 weeks.
Norm “was in a terrible car crash on Thursday around 1:30-2pm,” says his son Justin. Norm “fell asleep behind the wheel and hit a tree traveling about 45-50 mph. His current status: He has a collapsed lung that has not improved very much since the accident, a lacerated liver, five broken ribs, broken right hand in three places, and torn ligaments in his neck.” Justin says with all that, he’ll probably in the ICU “at least three to four weeks.” The thing the docs are watching most carefully is “a substantial-size blood clot in his neck that could still cause a massive stroke.” For now, Feuer (“FOY-er”) is asking friends not to call, because the broken ribs make talking painful (and Norm’s usually a talker). Justin offers a mail address for cards and notes – 8146 Santa Luz Village Green Norte, San Diego CA 92127.
The FCC aspires to shift the burden of regulatory fees more toward radio and away from TV – but the NAB says “Wait just a minute.” NAB’s just-filed comments on next year’s tariff of regulatory fees says that kind of reallocation should be handled through a formal Rulemaking. The association says “regulatory fees directly impact a broadcaster’s bottom line, especially radio stations facing growing competition from online services that have no obligations to maintain a local studio, public file or Emergency Alert System equipment.” NAB is opposing outright the FCC’s thought about determining radio stations fees the same way it does TV stations – by market size (May 26 NOW). The agency’s also mused about eliminating “the types and classes of radio stations in determining fees,” and NAB says the FCC “should not pursue” that angle. For now, stations pay based on class of service and population served. Check the NAB comments here.
Starpower alone won’t make a business work, and the Tidal streaming service championed by Jay-Z suffers another shock – interim CEO Peter Tonstad has left, three months after succeeding original CEO Andy Chen. Billboard says Tidal’s at 770,000 paid subscribers, “a far cry from Spotify’s 20 million.” Also not looking good was the non-appearance of Tidal Chief Investment Officer Vania Schlogel for a session at yesterday’s New Music Seminar in New York.
Who are radio’s next “Rising stars?” This new competition has few rules, in the interest of casting a very wide net. ReelWorld is soliciting nominations through July 10 in conjunction with Don Anthony’s Morning Show Boot Camp 27, and they’ll choose ten “special personalities who are destined for stardom,” says ReelWorld. Its brand director Tyler Huggins tells NOW they’re already getting inquiries. The rules are simple - “open to all candidates, in all formats and market sizes, who have been on-air for at least one year, but not longer than ten years, in either a supporting or leading role.” Nominate somebody (yourself or a colleague?) here.
Asheville’s new classic hits “Rewind 100.3” is another of Saga’s “metro signals,” meaning it’s a translator fed by one of its HD Radio signals. This one one’s taking the “Rewind” branding that Hubbard once used in Chicago and Cincinnati, and Radio Insight adds the angle that it “brings the classic hits format back to Asheville, North Carolina for the first time since Saga flipped WOXL to AC ‘Mix 96.5’ in December 2008.” Saga bought Asheville move-in translator W262CO from Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting for $125,000 (June 11 NOW) – and didn’t wait long to press “Rewind.”
The urban segment’s getting crowded in New Haven, where Nielsen estimates there are 62,000 African-Americans in the total market population of perhaps 430,000. Hartford’s CBS-owned “Hot 93.7” WZMX can easily be heard down in New Haven, and there’s the local urban AC “Rhythm of the City,” WYBC-FM/94.3, owned by Yale University and in a sales marketing agreement with Connoisseur. Now iHeart introduces a local urban player via translator, branded “100.9 the Beat.” We wondered what iHeart would do with the translator it’s been struggling to establish, after interference complaints by Saga (May 21 NOW). The latest from Radio Insight is that translator W265DB has signed on as “the Beat.” It’s fed by the HD2 signal of iHeart’s top 40 “KC 101” WKCI, and is using iHeart’s Premium Choice urban lineup. That brings T-Roy and the Breakfast Club, Big Nat, and WWPR-FM New York-based Angie Martinez. iHeart debuted the Milbrook translator as “Rock 102” (when it was translator W271BW), then moved it to 101.5 to escape the interference complaint, and now runs it at 100.9 with 250 watts.
Bill Roth and Jon Laaser spend their Saturdays in the Fall calling college football games, and they’re both in for changes of assignment. Bill Roth’s heading to Los Angeles to work on the games of the UCLA Bruins, after handling play-by-play for the Virginia Tech Hokies for more than 25 years. He’s succeeded at the Blacksburg broadcast booth by Jon Laaser, says rightsholder IMG. (It also has the UCLA rights.) Laaser (pronounced like “Laser”) has been describing baseball games for the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels and basketball for Virginia Commonwealth. IMG says it’s got more than 30 affiliates for the Virginia Tech network, which opens the season with the Hokies against the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Mike Burnop continues as the radio analyst for VA Tech.
Hank Bauer quickly lands his next assignment, at Sports USA as an analyst for the 2015 NFL season. He was just dropped by iHeart from the San Diego Charges game coverage based at “Xtra 1360 Fox Sports” KLSD (yesterday’s NOW), but he’s accustomed to bouncing back. New employer Sports USA notes that as a player, “his 52 special-teams tackles in 1981 set an NFL record that still stands today” – but he was forced out the next year by a broken neck.
Daniel Villanueva not only managed the transition from pro athlete to the business world – he made millions as a co-founder of today’s Univision. Villanueva, a philanthropist and path-breaker for other Hispanics, has just died at 77. The son of an itinerant Methodist minister of Mexican ancestry, he was signed by the NFL Los Angeles Rams in 1960 as a kicker. He told ESPN.com that in those days, it was “all the black guys get on that bus, white guys get on that bus, and Danny, you take a cab.” He made all of $5,500 a year and started doing sports for KMEX-TV in L.A. to earn some money on the side. Even after he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys he kept the TV job in L.A., where he became the news director after retirement from the NFL. (Danny played in the infamous 1967 “Ice Bowl” championship game at Lambeau Field.) Eventually Villanueva was co-owner of KMEX, while doing on-air work at KNBC-TV. The New York Times says KMEX “became the flagship station of the Spanish International Network” – and was sold to Hallmark in 1987, taking on the name Univision. Danny stayed until 1990, and later worked with rival Telemundo and various private equity firms. Now it’s possible that Univision, owned by a consortium of P.E. firms, will go public again at a multi-billion-dollar valuation – and that would’ve made Danny Villanueva smile.
Impossible-to-read ad copy - Steve Adler in Chicago reacts to yesterday's "You Can't Make This Up" story about "the boss-lady's typewriter," and says "I worked at a station that would type live-copy scripts on yellow paper. The owner thought that white paper would be too hard to read because of glare. Unfortunately, the copywriter was a terrible typist, and he used white correction fluid to cover up and correct errors. But he was too impatient to wait for the fluid to dry before typing over the errors. The resulting pages looked as if they were sprayed with white paint, and the scripts were almost impossible to read." Steve says that after 13 years as an account executive with Chicago Public Media's WBEZ/91.5, and doing sales/sales management at Chicago stations like WZZN, WNIB and WYBR, he's retiring from radio. He jokes "I think this is a cry for help, because I'm going to study math and accounting at the local community college." At least for now, Steve’s at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telling radio’s stories one day at a time is the mission of this daily Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter. Like what you learn here? Tell a friend or forward this copy to a colleague. You’ll be helping us continue to grow, as we do every day. Want your company’s marketing message to be seen by this slightly-addicted readership? Contact Kristy Scott - Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. See you back first thing tomorrow - Tom