|Happy Thanksgiving! RAIN's next scheduled publication
date is Monday, November 26.
From a commentary piece in Radio World Online: "Three
years ago, the hot buzzword in media was 'convergence'...
"While the promised convergence has taken place
to an extent, it certainly hasnt
expanded the platform for broadcast radio.
This is puzzling because IP radio, even over a 3G network, can deliver
world-class audio better than most iPod downloads or even IBOC feeds.
"So why hasnt broadcast radio, the largest audio
content provider in the United States, taken advantage of the opportunity
to expand its platform?..
"According to the major carriers expanding their 3G
networks, the 3G phones are flying off the shelf, far
outselling HD Radios. 70% of all the new cars being sold
in 2007 have auxiliary audio input capability,
including everyday Fords, Chevys, Dodges, Hondas and Toyotas. Internet
radio listenership in the work environment has skyrocketed, so the
ability of audiences to continue to listen to their favorite stations
while commuting home should be a given.
"Why arent people listening to their favorite
broadcast stations on their mobile phones?.. It should be happening
but it isnt, the primary reason being poor
audio quality. With regard to 3G mobile streaming, there
is a total lack of promotion
on the part of the carriers and the streamers themselves...
The problem with audio quality
"Major-market broadcast group CEOs announce they have
an Internet strategy, yet their streaming audio quality is just
awful. How can one have a strategy that doesnt
have a viable product? Savvy broadcasters use their audio
stream to further promote their overall product...
"The strategy of most broadcasters is to use a codec
that reaches the most players... then they make sure that they can
reach dialup clients as well, so they cut the combined audio and
data bit rate to 40 kbps or less... Some stations even stream in
"This sounds bad on PC speakers and worse
on cell phones... but corporate strategy is to minimize
cost while bringing in residual revenue, using the stream as a promotional
tool for the station instead of making it a viable product that
can generate self-supporting revenue... Broadcasters are not promoting
their stations by sounding bad. The revenue will never do more than
"These days, people without broadband arent interested
in streaming or theyd have more than a dialup. People who
listen to the Internet dont mind getting the player that will
get them the quality stations they want...
"With WiFi, WiMax, 3G, IP and more, Internet radio
can deliver what HD Radio promises, but with millions
of receivers already on the market. Internet radio is
radio with no geographic limits radio that can be taken anywhere
there is Internet service. For many small- and medium-market broadcasters
who are balking at the HD fees, Internet radio could be seen as
an HD alternative as long as
it delivers HD or better quality.
The iPhone may spur innovation
"Phone carriers dont
want netcasters to stream. The carriers want their customers
to buy content at a premium and at the carriers convenience...
That is where carriers want the business and that is where they
point the promotion.
"The reason is simple: bandwidth...
"The real mind-boggler is this: The streams and live
content that carriers promote not only sound horrible but use some
the most inefficient codecs on the market today... Again, the potential
for quality is there; it is just not being addressed... Surprising
also is that this is really limited to
the United States, which points to the real problem regarding
3G media services...
"People are too busy using their phones for photos,
texting and calls to be using them for entertainment. That is what
they have their iPods for... Unless the user knows some
really good stations, the iPod is going to win the quality war...
"That being said, we now have the promise of a phone
scheme that is based on content first
and the phone second: the Apple iPhone.
"One realizes when looking at the actual capabilities
of the phone that like the rest of the mobile industry, this model
is based on podcasts or downloads. Unlike the 3G phones that allow
streaming, the iPhone does not [Ed. note: See details of a new 3rd-party
app that does allow limited
streaming in this issue of RAIN, here]...
In reality, the iPhone may still provide the necessary push because
it has spurred competitive products
from the traditional phone manufacturers and competing carriers.
That competitive product will be based on 3G and that
does include streaming, so there is hope.
Quality means more than programming
"Broadcast radio, for the most part, has never really
understood the Internet... If a groups 'Internet strategy'
is based only on minimizing cost, this strategy cannot compete with
the Internet broadcasters
who are serious about their audio... If you are streaming, compare
your product to the Internet-only stations that youre competing
against. They will start taking broadcasters
ad dollars away only if broadcasters let them...
"Broadcasters are spending a good deal of money promoting
HD. Why not hedge the investment
by promoting the additional platforms that are available to your
listeners? Unlike HDs inability to compete with satellite
radio in the new car market, 3G holds the
potential of actually allowing a station to start cashing in on
both the primary and supplemental channels that have been developed.
"No matter what happens with the iPhone, CRB or just
about anything else IP-related, the Internet is here to stay and
so are those who want to deliver live media. If you want to be in
those offices and on those phones, and get the ad dollars that will
be associated with those streams, you need a quality product that
goes well beyond programming."
The above is from an article by John Schaab, PC products
manager for Orban
Optimized Audio. Read the entire piece at Radio World Online