Can Radio Station Simulcasts Compete on Smartphones?

Last month at the Radio Days Europe conference in Milan, Italy, I was privileged to present the findings of a unique research project  along with Rüdiger Landgraf of KroneHit Radio in Austria and German radio consultant Christian Schalt.  It was titled "Stream Battle" and a unique inquiry.

We gave 21 women in Krone's target group a special smartphone that had only four apps available -- Spotify (free version), Pandora (specially configured to work in Austria), the station app for KroneHit and for their main competitor Ö3. In addition we installed a data-tracking app with the participants' knowledge so we could track their usage.

Kurt Hanson wrote a nice piece about our presentation here.  At the end of the piece he quotes Christian Schalt saying: "Mere simulcasts will not save you."  This was indeed one of our main findings -- even with some nice enhancements, the Ö3 app, which only provides a simulcast stream, came in last among the four possibilities.  

And so I'm going to devote my next several posts to the question in the headline -- how competitive are radio station simulcasts in the Smartphone environment?  We can start by looking at Triton Digital's data over time.  As the graph below shows, if one just compares Pandora to the top five radio companies' streams -- the story is pretty clear. 

It's almost hard to remember at this point but a little over five years ago, simulcasts made up the majority of online radio usage.  Then over the last several years Pandora has enjoyed consistent growth while the market for simulcasts is pretty much flat.  As I argued in this post, one can clearly connect this growth to the adoption of smartphones.  Of course if all pureplays were added to the Pandora line and all radio station simulcasts were added to the 'radio' line, the differences would be even more dramatic. 

But the above graph includes both desktop and mobile.  In my next post I'll use other data to zoom in on the mobile environment.