Bridge Ratings: Streaming Is Complementary To Radio
January 26, 2015 at 3:57 AM (PT)
BRIDGE RATINGS has completed an analysis of data comparing radio station playlists to the number of songs that station's audience is actually consuming on-demand in a given week. The company notes, "The results may surprise you. As you may know from your own experience, broadcast radio listeners may have specific tastes in music and they are attracted to those radio stations that specialize in that music. Be it Top 40, Country, Classic Rock or Classical, there is usually a radio station for most popular tastes. On the other hand, while someone may prefer to spend most of their radio listening tuned to the local Top 40 station, it is likely that person has a broader taste in music and likes a little bit of this and little bit of that which may not be described as 'Top 40'."
In previous studies, BRIDGE RATINGS has substantiated that most owners of a music collection enjoy more than one type of music. A fan of rock music could easily have "rockin'" songs on their digital music player that come from the Country music category or they may have a guilty pleasure of a few of KATY PERRY’s best hits.
“Nowhere is this played out more graphically than when comparing a radio station’s typical weekly playlist with the list of songs streamed on-demand by their listeners over the course of the same week,” said BRIDGE RATINGS Pres. DAVE VAN DYKE.
For this study, BRIDGE took a look at current hits and recurrents played on Top 40 stations in a top-10 market as well as such a station in a market sized between #20 and #40. Additionally, they looked at current hits and recurrents played at popular Country music radio stations in a top-10 market and a market ranked between #20 and #30. Finally, BRIDGE added a popular Classic Rock station in a top-10 market.
"We chose these stations at random to determine if there was any significant difference in the percentage of songs played on the air during a typical week compared to the number of songs that station's audience streamed during the same week," noted BRIDGE. This is what they found:
"As one might suspect, a tightly controlled playlist on a Top 40 station would only play a small percentage of all the songs streamed by their audience that week. In the case of the Top 10 market Top 40, it played just 3.3% of the songs streamed that week by their audience," writes BRIDGE. "The percentages vary slightly when comparing stations with similar radio music formats. Interestingly, the Top 40 station we selected in a market sized between #20 and #30 had a larger playlist and thus a higher percentage of the songs (7.4%) its audience streamed that week, but still under 10%. Country radio very much mirrors the mechanics of Top 40 radio by being very selective in their playlists and thus play similar-sized lists as their Top 40 brethren. This is why the percentages we see at Country radio are similarly low."
BRIDGE notes, "When looking at a library-based station, i.e. one that plays few or no current songs such as the Classic Rock station we chose, the numbers are interesting. Out of 2,114 streamed songs on-demand that week by that station's listeners, the Classic Rock played 790 or 37% of them. It must be stated that a current song-based station like a Top 40 or Country play by different rules than a Classic Rock station, which has 20+ years of songs to choose from. And library-based radio stations tend to repeat their songs less frequently because they have many more titles to choose from. If all of the song titles (currents + recurrents + gold) played on the top-10 market Top 40 station that week are included (146), its percentage increases to 7.1%.
VAN DYKE clarifies, “This isn’t a referendum on radio formats but rather a better understanding of the part that radio plays in the music consumption scheme of its listeners. This is only an interesting exercise to share more insight into the behaviors of radio stations and music consumers alike as well as the relationship between broadcast radio listening and on-demand streaming.”
"Top 40 and Country stations are often at the top of the ratings in their markets with smaller playlists. This is because they are satisfying music consumers’ needs," continues the report. "The focus of these stations on specific audience segments is what makes them popular and, apparently, their audiences may not mind because they are hearing 'the hits' played frequently and should they want more variety they can and do stream additional songs they like, when and where they want.
“We saw in our audio consumption study late last year that listeners use radio to help them choose music they want to stream,” said VAN DYKE.
The report notes, "On-demand streaming behavior continues to grow at a blistering pace; up 55% in 2014 over the previous year. It is satisfying a variety of needs. In the case of radio listeners, streaming tends to be a complementary technology that is expanding music consumption and awareness while broadcast radio continues to serve its purpose as a curator of the most popular music as well as a source for music discovery. And that's a good thing."