NAB Show Formally Opens In Las Vegas
Smith: Broadcast 'More Important Today Than Ever'
April 13, 2015 at 2:46 PM (PT)
The NAB SHOW opened its regular sessions MONDAY morning (4/13) in LAS VEGAS with an opening session honoring JERRY LEWIS with a Lifetime Achievement Award and the annual State of the Industry Address from NAB President/CEO GORDON SMITH.
In his speech, SMITH declared that "broadcast radio and television are more important today than they have ever been," decrying the "crass and degrading material" on other media sources and asserting that broadcast media are "where Americans turn when they want 'just the facts' with no yelling, screaming and finger pointing. Isn't that refreshing?" He imagined a world where broadcast radio and TV didn't exist, depriving people of emergency information, charity support, and small business connections, in the manner of "It's a Wonderful Life," calling broadcasting "a catalyst to a pretty wonderful American life."
Among the developments cited by SMITH were NEXTRADIO and Hybrid FM, and he touted how the NAB is working to protect broadcasters' interests in music royalty negotiations.
MANDALAY ENTERTAINMENT Chairman/CEO and former studio head PETER GUBER gave a keynote address on the future of entertainment media and technology, saying that "the pace of change is no longer linear, it's multidimensional," and calling for the industry not to be risk averse. He stressed service to customers, but warned not to call them customers (which leads to them "covering their groins" in expectation of mistreatment) but rather to deal with them as audiences. GUBER noted that the traditional one-way nature of entertainment is being challenged, and promoted the success of his company's sports and awards show businesses, demonstrating a virtual reality headset that works with a mobile phone and allows an immersive experience like watching a basketball game as if actually at the game.
Broadcasting Issues On Capitol Hill
Former FCC Commissioner ROBERT MCDOWELL hosted a panel of top Congressional aides looking at how broadcasting issues are faring on CAPITOL HILL. MCDOWELL, now a partner at WILEY REIN LLP, was joined by three House aides, Energy and Commerce Committee Chief Counsel DAVID REDL and Democratic aide MARGARET MCCARTHY, the House Judiciary Committee's JOE RUSSO, and the Senate Judiciary Committee's GARRETT LEVIN in the session.
On the prospect of a Communications Act rewrite, REDL said that the Committee staff has composed a series of white papers (including even one dealing with international issues), and that the rewrite depends on revamping the FCC itself as well. REDL said that he and his superiors are trying not to set a timeline for the review while they try to work with Democrats on the issue. MCCARTHY's boss, Rep. FRANK PALLONE (D-NJ), has ascended to Ranking Member of the committee, and noted that there has been bipartisan work among staffers on the Communications Act rewrite. Asked if the rewrite can be done without addressing the hot button issue of Net neutrality, REDL responded that he didn't know but pointed at other areas, including spectrum issues, having more bipartisan agreement, an assessment with which MCCARTHY agreed.
Regarding reauthorization of the FCC, MCCARTHY said that the Commission has made strides towards reforming the agency, but REDL noted the radio background of subcommittee Chair GREG WALDEN (R-OR) and his travails dealing with the Commission when he was a licensee, and voiced concern that the Commission has been ignoring mandates like the deadline for ownership rules reviews to deal with more expedient things. "The FCC isn't a bad place, but it's time for it to get a little more transparent," REDL added.
RUSSO said that his panel has had 20 hearings with hundreds of witnesses on copyright issues, and the panel is continuing to review the issue with another hearing coming up. LEVIN noted a "long history" of bipartisan work on copyright issues in the Senate. MCDOWELL asked about the prospect of Congress doing a total overhaul of the music licensing laws, and RUSSO noted that many of the rules are "outdated"; he declined to say what any overhaul of the rules would look like.
The panel also discussed television issues like the "Local Choice Act," spectrum auctions, and problems with the white spaces database.
Hiring and Motivating
Radio management took center stage at RAB President and CEO ERICA FARBER's "Lunch and Learn" panel MONDAY afternoon, with COX MEDIA GROUP's KIM GUTHRIE, ALPHA MEDIA's BOB PROFITT, and CBS RADIO's SCOTT HERMAN on hand to talk about managing radio and keeping staffers energized and enthusiastic about radio. The panel talked about the success of companies like GOOGLE who have reputations of keeping employees loyal and happy, their companies' missions (PROFFITT said "we don't have" a mission statement), managing millenials, and attracting young and capable talent to work in radio.
Dispelling Marketing Myths For Podcasts
At the NEW MEDIA EXPO, the podcast/streaming conference being held in conjunction with the NAB SHOW, LIBSYN/PODCAST411 VP Podcaster Relations ROB WALCH gave a talk aimed at debunking much of the marketing advice given to podcasters. "Word of mouth marketing trumps everything else," he noted, although he proceeded to offer many tips for maximizing exposure for podcasts.
WALCH lampooned marketers and webinars promising guaranteed audience growth (one webinar claimed that podcasters can make millions), warned that "everyone lies" about their statistics and metrics, and offered real numbers instead, with a median download per episode figure of 173, 9.600 downloads putting a show in the top 5%, and 46,000 downloads placing a show in the top 1%.
He also joked about the myth of the "Great Podcasting Resurgence of 2014," showing identical media coverage of a "resurgence" in 2013 and 2007. "Podcasting is not a fad," he said. "It's been steadily growing." But he noted that the adjusted mean downloads per episode has been roughly flat, and that the impetus for the coverage -- "Serial" -- drew attention because it was a show by reporters about reporting appealing to reporters.
"Twitter is worthless for podcasting," WALCH insisted, showing examples of how Twitter-bombing ultimately does not build a "real audience" but an artificially inflated number that cannot be maintained. The easiest way to tell if a show has a "real audience," he said, is that legitimately successful shows have AppleCoreMedia and iTunes as their top two user agents. He suggested that any tweeted-out links to shows direct clicks to iTunes. And he said that Android is showing little relative consumption of podcasts as opposed to iOS devices (Android developer GOOGLE, WALCH said, "is not a podcaster's friend").
Other important ways to get an audience, WALCH said, is to get featured on iTunes (but there is no way to game the system to get featured) but that being featured on the main page "is worth 300, 350 downloads per episode, maybe 1,000, nothing more), ensure that the artwork attached to the show is good (he noted that early on, iTunes would not feature ADAM CAROLLA's show until better artwork was submitted. He explained the workings of the iTunes top 200 list, showing how longevity helps but new subscribers are critical.
WALCH noted that the title of a show is by far the most critical element involved in iTunes searches, and suggested that keywords be included in extended titles to ensure search success. He also advised to link the direct link to the iTunes store page on the podcast website rather than an itpc link that bypasses the iTunes page, and add "&ls=1" to the link to allow the link to open iTunes directly instead of the web gateway page first.