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Internet and satellite audience numbers indicate that people still love radio

People are listening to internet radio (which is delivered by a series of tubes).

People are listening to internet radio (which is delivered by a series of tubes).

The Radio and Internet Newsletter covers Triton Digital’s online radio listening metrics for May, noting that growth is flat, in keeping with an expected “summer slow-down.” Pandora continues to lead the market by a wide margin, with more than 1.4 million average active listening sessions, and 1.5 billion session starts from 6 AM to midnight. Out of the rest of the top 5, three are terrestrial commercial broadcasters: Clear Channel (#2), Cumulus (#4) and CBS (#5). Slacker sits at #3 as the other non-broadcaster in the top 5, while NPR member stations sit at #6.

As RAIN notes, Pandora also released its June numbers, with Wall Street reacting poorly to news that listener hours and market share were down from May, even though both were up significantly from June 2012. Thinking about this makes me wonder: how often does a major terrestrial television or radio broadcaster see its stock price slide based on a single month’s ratings?

Looking to the sky, satellite broadcaster SiriusXM reported 715,000 new subscribers in the 2nd quarter of 2013, nudging its total subscriber base past 25 million. That caused the company to predict it will add a total of 1.5 million new subscriptions in 2013, 100k more than it predicted last quarter. The company did not break down how many new subscribers are internet-only.

Even if summer means a slowdown in internet listening, what I see in these numbers is strong demand for radio, whether its online or satellite. Although Pandora is a music-only service, most of the other top online broadcasters–as well as SiriusXM–offer a significant quantity of news and talk programming.

Internet radio listening will only grow more if it becomes easier to listen using mobile networks, away from home or office wifi connections. This, of course, makes broadcasters dependent on mobile carriers, and threatens to favor big players, like Clear Channel, at the expense of smaller or non-commercial ones. Being able to listen to internet radio more easily in the back yard, at the park or at the beach may help to counteract the summer slump where terrestrial broadcast radio still rules.

In any event, people still want radio, no matter how it’s delivered.


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