Speakers vs headphones | radioinfo

Speakers vs headphones

Tuesday 05 March, 2019
Image: Shutterstock

Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

New figures have come out this week from Triton Digital, who produce a ranker for (in this case) streaming radio online.

They show that radio listening on smart speakers has doubled. In fact, it’s increased by 111%, a bit more than double.
These figures confirm the rapid growth of smart speaker ownership, and of the importance of a clear, simple brand.
Smart speakers are good news for radio - as long as your station is remembered by your audience. I have a theory that your P1 station - your favourite station - does quite well in a smart speaker; but that you tend to forget about your P3 or P4 station.
It’s important that your station works on a smart speaker: that your audience can ask for it by name, both your proper official name and the name that they might reasonably use to tune in.
More and more, it’s clear that smart speakers are replacing radio receivers in the home. We’ve only got one space in the kitchen, for example, and either that space is filled with a radio receiver or it’s filled with a smart speaker.
These figures really highlight that the smart speaker has come of age in the home. I gather that the figures, particularly, grew rapidly at the end of the year - and that the figures show purchases were high around Christmas time.
What the figures don’t crow about is that radio listening on mobile phones is pretty well static year-on-year - instead of 42% of total hours in January 2017, the mobile phone accounted for 44% in January 2018.
For a while, I’ve been claiming that radio listening is split in terms of physical device: that live radio does really well in terms of speakers, but doesn’t work as well on headphones, where we expect a bit more interactivity and access to on-demand.
I’ve said that we should get our radio station available on anything that has a speaker - but get our on-demand content available on headphones.
These figures are interesting - since they represent a “told you so” moment.
So what’s your strategy for your radio station? On mobile, it’s increasingly obvious that on-demand needs to be what you offer: and that’s a bit harder than just finding a live stream from somewhere.

About The Author

James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website media.info and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes podnews.net, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at james.crid.land.

Contact James at [email protected] or @jamescridland




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8 March 2019 - 1:20pm
The issue with radio stations and smart speakers is what name do you want it to recognise. Many radio stations used their transmission frequency as their identity. Unfortunately smart speakers are connected to the internet and the same transmission frequencies are used many times across the world. Even in Australia the same frequencies are reused multiple times particularly in FM. I don't want to add the city name every time I ask to listen to the radio. But again the same city names also occur in multiple counties For example there is a Sydney in Canada and a Melbourne in the USA.
A lot of broadcasters use common words as well Hot, Cool etc, Perhaps the only way out of this is to return to call signs like many AM stations still use. To be consistent the same name should be used for AM/FM, DAB+/DRM and streaming. Their frequency and whether it is AM or FM are irrelevant for the internet and DAB+/DRM radio which uses names as well.

Lastly, what does it cost to distribute your signal via streaming including smart speakers when your whole audience listens this way. The costs increase exponentially as the number of simultaneous listeners increases. It would also be a good opportunity for the smart speaker manufacturers to take the broadcasters' advertising to pay for their distribution in addition to the telcos.
If broadcasters transmit their signal they have control over where it goes and the costs. DAB+/DRM does reduce transmission costs due to a reduction in electricity consumption and equipment costs.
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