Radio Needs Video

Video streaming has been growing in popularity especially in the last six months.

There is a new research study out from Ipsos MediaCT's MOTION that is picking up on a trend that radio people should consider and understand.

Americans with access to the Internet are now streaming more TV shows and movies than at any previous time in history -- 26% streaming a full-length TV show and 14% a movie within the last 30 days alone (an increase of double that of September, 2008).

This is a red light for the television and motion picture industries, but it is also a warning to radio -- a medium depending exclusively on the aural experience.

It will not surprise you that the 18-24 age group is leading the way into the video future. And you know who follows them.

That's right, everyone else.

In the past month, 30% 0f 18-24's represented in the Ipsos study streamed a full-length movie and 51% a full-length TV show -- dramatically more than last year.

This is more than two times the levels measured in September 2008. Not surprisingly, young adults 18 to 24 years of age have been the most ardent supporters of this medium.

Perhaps you remember when I spoke of my students preferring to watch TV on their laptops when the rest of us were obsessing about HD and big screens. At the time my college aged daughter and her roommate would rather watch DVDs than live TV as long as it was on their laptops. In fact at my daughter's apartment, her TV is not even working. And she could care less.
Perhaps you've witnessed similar behavioral changes among your friends and relatives.

She gets MLB package to watch her Atlanta Braves (how did I have a daughter who is not a Phillies fan?).

Hulu, the replacement for TV for the next generation, is a popular means of watching ad-supported video programming. Young users by and large ignore or put up with the ads and in return they get to watch their favorite network TV shows.

Sooner or later advertisers will figure this out. A blatant ad on YouTube actually gets better results.

This commercial has over 700,000 views and you can see why it literally leaves viewers hungry for more:

This hits at the heart of the problem.

Radio, TV and newspapers want to print content and run advertising within it to support and pay for that content.

The new world media order suggests that a "commercial" such as the one above may get better results just by being a commercial -- a sexy commercial, but nonetheless a commercial residing on a social networking site such as YouTube.

You don't need listeners or viewers paying attention to commercials to have a growth industry -- duh, look at radio and TV.

Try to even remember a single Super Bowl ad one week later.

The paid subscription model will not work right now for streaming video so advertising supported video sites are the interim choice for an obviously increasing number of people.

Many students tell me they just check email or their phones text messages while the pre-roll commercials are on. They're willing to put up with them even if they don't pay attention.

The Ipsos research now confirms what I related to you earlier:

"...even among digital video users, 64% would rather watch hour-long dramas and half-hour comedies live on their TV than rent or purchase them, or watch them on their PC or portable device"

The average American watches 15 hours a week so the TV will not be turned off for a long time in the future, but it is safe to say that its monopoly on longer form video content is probably over.

I started by saying radio needs video.

And I don't mean pointing a camera at Don Imus and calling that TV suitable for the Internet.

In fact, back to the days when Arthur Godfrey did a simulcast radio and TV show the question wasn't whether it was possible, it was why?

Today, there is clearly a place for audio even if that audio is not terrestrial radio.

To my way of thinking, the new radio is podcasting because it cooperates with the inevitable -- that is, short attention spans.

The new talk radio is podcasting. But if talkers think they're going to do their radio shows for an iPod and not make substantive content and formatic changes, they will not transfer to new media successfully.

Two-way talk was a feature of radio decades ago. Two-way talk is no longer necessary for generations younger than 60 (the talk radio audience). Younger people increasingly communicate through social networking not phone calls. Even here at Inside Music Media, readers comment by going to Facebook. I don't even have to link to Facebook. They just go -- intuitively.

"Talk radio" will be talk podcasting -- 45 minutes or less, and they will need compelling content because here's the challenge with podcasting -- forming a daily habit.

I'm a new media advisor and I don't listen to most podcasts every day. My clients, Dave & Geri, have figured out a way to get their loyal and growing audience to visit them as frequently as they did in their cars during morning drive. It can be done.

And, I don't think Dave & Geri would mind me sharing this tidbit with you.

Downloads for their new age "morning" podcast peak in the morning, but nighttime downloads almost equal morning downloads.

The morning show is now in essence -- on demand -- and their fans download the content at these two times in great numbers.

But even podcasting will need video.

Radio stations can operate as an aural medium until the last listener dies or turns the radio off or in the alternative, they could build content for new media using the talent they already employ.

In the end, there is a new realization and the faster we embrace it the more successful we will be in the new world of media.

A generation is now coming of age that is used to being -- and demands to be -- in control of their content.

They want it on-demand -- not necessarily in the hands of the "broadcaster" or content provider.

When they want to read something, they expect to click and see text.

When they want to hear something, they expect to touch and get audio.

When they want to see something, we have trained them to click and get video.

If "radio" (whatever that becomes in the future) can't do all three of these things, it has no future in the digital world.

The name "radio" may be part of the problem because everyone knows that it means listening, not seeing and not reading.

I say, dispense with the names -- deploy the talented people, managers, marketing and sales execs already in place (or recently laid off) and reinvent the radio industry to include video, text as well as audio.

The tablet mobile entertainment device from Apple is coming.

That means a great delivery system to give the next generation access to all these things with the consumer remaining firmly in control.

The first step is to see and understand the forces at work both technological and sociological that are causing the change.

The choice for radio is to adapt or die.

I don't care how many buyers there are waiting on the sidelines to scoop up consolidator's debt-ridden stations, it is not a solution that passes the generational media test.

Ironically, the choice to survive is not just in the hands of consumers but squarely under the purview of radio execs.

Can they get it in time?

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