People have lots of apps on their phones – they are going to default to the ones that bring them joy. So if a user’s favorite station has a poor app, or has a perfectly good app serving a poor stream, that could limit listening to that station on your phone or tablet. You want proof? The broadcasters involved with promoting the FM Chip in phones throw their own apps right under the bus. Listen to the commercial where Erik Estrada says, "They want you to pay to stream radio instead: you know, delayed, choppy, buffered streaming radio that drains your battery."
· Apps – part two – aggregation apps
When one considers all the reasons that radio simulcasts in America aren't competing with pureplays in the mobile environment, one has to consider the role of the aggregators (such as iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn). On one level the aggregators are great in that they allow for high profile marketing opportunities – for instance iHeartRadio’s concerts and Radio.com’s spots on the Super Bowl and Grammys.
However I have to wonder if the aggregation strategy is limiting the total growth of the simulcast sector. With station apps – the steps are: 1) download station app; 2) open app and hear station. With an aggregator it goes: 1) download app; 2) open app; 3) type station name into the search box; 4) find station (if you can – iHeartRadio has FIFTY-SIX stations named ‘Kiss’ on it); 5) open station and hear it.
So many steps! People are notoriously impatient in the smartphone environment. How many people are saying: “Forget this!” after some step and never getting to their intended stream?
But the bigger point is – shouldn't stations have their own station-branded app and also be available on the aggregators? Isn’t that the answer? Not just aggregation and not just station-branded apps – both? Does the current situation, where if you type “Z100 New York” or “WIP Philadelphia” into the iTunes search you get nothing make any sense?
And one more point on aggregation – the iTunes page for iHeartRadio says: “iHeartRadio: Free Radio & Music. Listen to Streaming FM & AM Radio Stations, Top Songs, NPR, Podcasts, Live News, Sports & Comedy Shows.” Wow – that’s a lot of things.
· Lack of Customization and Personalizaton
Even if the spotload and technical issues didn't exist, simulcasts are competing with pureplay options that are adaptive technologies which veer from the one-program-fits-all ‘broadcast’ model. The pureplays take advantage of the digital revolution, the radio station simulcast, by contrast, seems outdated by comparison.
This is not to say that the problem is ‘radio.’ The problem is ‘simulcast.’ If I love Elvis Duran or Kevin & Bean or anyone else, I should be able to consume them however I want. For instance, I should be able to insert them into midday programming if that’s what I prefer. Hearing their highlights in a podcast should be an option too, but why is it not possible to create a seamless show that blends their content with the music I want as well?