Satellite Vs. Radio Vs. WiFi

A few days ago when the two -- only two -- satellite operators announced their merger intentions, I wrote a post about what it would take to succeed in a world where radio is everywhere. At the end of the piece I warned that if the merged satellite operator didn't make some major changes, it wouldn't really matter whether their merger succeeded or not because their mission wouldn't.

Now, it's time to mention the killer app.

When universal WiFi or its equivalent is available and consumers can take the Internet with them then it's all over for radio. Ditto for satellite radio.

That is, of course, assuming that terrestrial radio broadcasters don't have an epiphany soon and decide to get into the Internet radio business. Ditto for satellite.

So far, the excuses are pretty lame.

Radio is a fading industry thanks to the misdirected major consolidators. They've lost the next generation as they migrated to their mobile devices and the Internet. So what does that say? Well, when they are not fighting Arbitron's People Meter or when they stubbornly try to sell HD radio as the next big thing, they make excuses.

Can't pay the music licensing fees to stream our terrestrial signals. It would be prohibitive. No, it would be suicide -- not to stream the signals. Pay the fees and get your programming where the next generation is -- online. The rights fees will eventually come down. And Arbitron, that company you've been fighting for the past eight years over The People Meter, will include your simulcasted Internet listeners with your terrestrial listeners. Hey, cut out a few lawsuits this year and pay for music and talent rights.

More excuses.

Can't get into the Internet radio business and develop new separate stations. No! Radio executives would apparently rather develop stations-on-the-cheap for their HD sub channels where no one is listening than get into the Internet radio business where everyone is listening. Go ask Kurt Hanson, publisher of RAIN how he is doing it. And he's doing it well with AccuRadio.

Perhaps you're beginning to see where I am going here. Radio and the merged satellite radio company need to get into the Internet radio business now because tomorrow Internet radio will be the next radio. Why? Because that's where the listeners will be and universal WiFi will make it all possible.

And radio is uniquely qualified to ride the Internet radio wave because they have massive terrestrial radio platforms from which to launch more channels -- not in the Siberia called HD radio but the utopia that will someday be known as universal WiFi.

And since terrestrial broadcasts will likely give lip service to this, the one remaining satellite company could do it and be bigger than Clear Channel.

A few years back a major radio group was set to spend hundreds of million dollars on a terrestrial radio group acquisition. Fortunately for them, they wised up and someone else overspent to do the acquisition. Take a fraction -- I mean a very small fraction of what they were willing and anxious to spend on that old school acquisition and put it into developing the next radio and they become the future as they develop thousands of Internet radio stations with associated advertising platforms to go along with them.

It comes down to this.

Listeners of tomorrow are online today.

They have their cell phones on during all their waking hours -- on their person or nearby. Even the ubiquitous radio does not enjoy that kind of access to their audiences.

Will a major broadcaster please stand up and get into the Internet radio business in a major way now and not too late as radio has a habit of doing?