Over 10 minutes of the hour-long Leadership Breakfast session at the NAB/RAB Radio Show today was devoted to issues related to Internet radio. All four group heads characterized streaming as an important part of their future.
GROUP HEADS ACKNOWLEDGE INTERNET AS AN IMPORTANT PART OF RADIO'S FUTURE
Issue Date:Sep 15 2011 - 12:00am
CBS Radio President/CEO Dan Mason (pictured third from the left) explained that they see their NTR (non-traditional revenues) and digital efforts as "the lift" that comes on top whatever cyclical ups and downs there are in ad revenues due to issues of the economy.
Moderator Lew Paper (a partner at Dickstein Shapiro, LLP) asked, "Internet radio seems to have a lot of usage nowadays. Do you see it as important part of your future?"
Mason replied, "Is Pandora's business model good? Yes. But soon every operator in this room will have the opportunity to do the same kind of thing."
He elaborated, "Is it everything we do? No, but it's part of what we do." CBS Radio owns Last.fm and has incorporated personalizable radio features into its new Radio.com website and mobile apps.
When asked a different question, Cumulus Chairman/President/CEO Lew Dickey (pictured second from the left) instead asked to go back to the Internet radio issue. "On the Internet, there are no barriers to entry," he said.
"Pandora, iHeartRadio and Last.fm are great niche products. You'll see a lot of companies come in and do that." Using MySpace as an example, he observed that "'first in' doesn't always win." Dickey noted that he didn't believe that Internet radio was a "natural monopoly" in the way a social network migt be, leaving room for multiple players.
Returning to the topic a few minutes later, Paper asked Hubbard Radio President/CEO Bruce Reese (pictured on the far right) about streaming specifically.
"I think it is an expectation audiences have, and there may well be revenue opportunties," Reese answered. He pointed out that one of the basic challenges for firms like Pandora is the absence of scale: "Your expenses go up at exactly the same rate as your audience size."
Nonetheless, he predicted that a lot of people -- not just CBS and Clear Channel -- would be experimenting with personalizable radio soon.
Entercom President/CEO David Field (pictured on the far left) expressed the opinion that "Radio is thriving -- we just need a better narrative."
On the subject of HD Radio, CBS Radio's Mason said that he had intially been enthusiastic about the oppotunity for improved FM sound quality -- then had moved on a stage of being enthused about multichannel opportunities -- but has "graduated" from that stage and now believes the key opportunity is to offer visuals in the car dashboard to accompany audio content -- i.e., a photo accompanying a new story.
Reese and Mason have both been keynote speakers at past RAIN Summits. Field's Vice President of Digital Strategy and Enterprise Platforms, Tim Murphy, won Triton Digital's "RAIN Maker" award at RAIN Summit Chicago earlier this week.