Streaming Media That Will Fail Gen Y

Katz Radio in conjunction with numerous radio groups is launching an online platform soon that will allow terrestrial stations to be sold along with Internet streams. Only a small amount of their programming is Internet only content. National, regional and geographic targets will be made simple for advertisers when it goes into operation shortly.

The service will also allow for in-stream audio spots, pre-roll audio and video, synchronized banners and display and video ads.

Radio groups on board for the launch include Clear Channel, Cumulus, Cox, Emmis, Entercom, Greater Media, Journal, Nassau, Salem, Saga and Bonneville. Also Air America, and AccuRadio Internet-only streams. Katz is looking for five million listeners per week.

CBS has its own slick, independent service that frequently beats competitors like Clear Channel some months.

Is this the future?


Not even close.

It’s a logical next step for mostly-terrestrial broadcasters to take their current brands and make them available in one place for their existing audience and to easily sell it to national advertisers.

Anyone confusing these networks for the future will likely have a rude awakening when they figure it out.

For the rest of us, let’s figure it out.

The problem is – terrestrial radio and Internet streams built in the image of terrestrial radio – have little or no appeal to the next generation.

Not good.

The next generation is huge in terms of numbers and media viability going forward. Without them, the train has left the station partially empty.

You can’t fault traditional broadcasters for making this strategic move, but the companies that want to actually remain viable as content producers in the years ahead will have to spend more of their time understanding generational media.

They don't.

The only thing generational about the Katz and CBS efforts is its focus on older, available listeners. Try to find young people excited about listening to the stations that they routinely reject on the radio dial. Making such stations available in one place is a non-starter for Gen Y as these older media companies will unfortunately see.

What’s startling to me is how little traditional media know about the generation that they let get away during radio consolidation.

Why so few companies have ongoing research, brainstorming and pilot projects that cooperate with the inevitable.

These young consumers are available – they are in play – to content providers who are willing to understand the new rules of the game:

• The new consumer gets to program the station. (Ever wonder why Pandora is so popular with young people? Hello!).

• Radio will be podcasting -- shows that are five to fifty minutes in length which can be started, stopped, deleted and played when the listener wants.

• Commercials – the kind Katz and CBS are going to run on their online service – will be failures. It’s questionable as to how well spot radio ever worked – ask the consultants who built today’s radio industry – most agree. There will have to be new forms of monetization such as ancillary ways to make money, merchandising and different ways to sponsor content.

• A mobile device such as the iPhone or smart phone is not a radio and will not be used like a radio. It will, however, be a delivery system – storage device, if you will – for playing back programming later at the young consumers discretion -- not at the broadcasters.

All this is not to say that live streaming won’t also be popular, but the current model of 24/7 terrestrial radio is also a non-starter with this generation. They don't need 24/7 like past generations because they can always get what they want, for as long as they want and play it or delete it -- you guessed it -- when they want.

So, good for Katz and CBS for taking the next logical move for extending terrestrial radio’s reach and marketing to an easy online platform. I'm sure their present audience will appreciate it.

But when they get busy working on the new rules – mandated by the next generation – then they will have something that truly gives them a leg up on the future.

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