Around the globe, radio networks are struggling to drive ratings and revenue up. Through conventions, conferences, and independent research, brands are busy exploring how to adapt to a rapidly changing digital playing field.
Understanding the future of radio might feel like buying a house in a new neighbourhood. You may be unsure about the value, nervous about the investment, and constantly looking at comparable deals. Realistically, you’re hoping that what the trend reports say holds up.
Let’s take a look at two international broadcast leaders that aren’t just using digital, but thriving with it: Australia’s very own Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and U.S-based Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Southern Cross Austereo
With Austraila’s largest regional commercial radio footprint, this top broadcaster is known for more than it’s two spotlight brands, Today Network and Triple M Network. Its commitment to company-wide digital adoption has made them industry leaders and innovators.
- SCA was one of the first to invest in digital radio space, contributing original content since 2008
- Focuses on long-term partnerships with advertisers, instead just of selling air-time
- SCA Engage, its sister website, strategically showcases information, ideas, and opportunities for advertisers
- In July 2014 alone, SCA had 840,000 unique audience members across all devices
- Driven by station shows, social media, sports, celebrities, and mobile browsers, Average Daily Unique Browsing has increased 69% year on year
Instead of defining their broadcasting group around traditional radio, SCA markets itself as a versatile, content-rich broadcaster. It appeals to advertisers because it develop tailored media solutions, thinks ahead, and help brands build digital momentum. With its results-driven attitude and ability to constantly leverage digital data, greater opportunities certainly lay ahead for this media group.
Sinclair Broadcast Group
Within the past year, Sinclair has hit the digital ground running, exceeding industry trends and increasing their revenue by 45% in its second quarter, year over year. Sinclair President-CEO David Smith said: “We are excited to report better than expected second quarter results on stronger core advertising and digital interactive revenues.”
Sinclair can largely attribute this growth to its latest station acquisitions, but what other radio brands should really take note of is its latest disruptive technology project: ONE Media. This joint venture with Coherent Logix will introduce a next generation broadcast medium described as an Open Network Enabled (ONE) broadcast/broadband converged media platform.
Without hiring Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” to decode this, let’s break down what the platform is, and why Sinclair’s investment in it was a genius move.
- The joint investment will build a “Next Generation Platform,” which will enable competitive broadcasting through all media devices
- Will allow users wireless access to video content anytime, anywhere without a data cap
- ONE will be a convergence of broadcasting with wireless broadband services, ultimately changing the broadcast spectrum
- Thinking beyond traditional broadcasting norms and using alternative technology will allow a higher flow of data, reduce costs, and engage consumers and broadcasters alike
- Industry reports, such as the radio trends infographic below, indicate that the way that radio listeners consume media has shifted dramatically. Sinclair is not only listening to their audiences, but spearheading a new opportunity for the broadcast industry
This visionary approach validates the idea that embracing digital is about more than following current trends. Investing in a project this large is a bold move, but what’s important to consider is Sinclair’s future-driven mindset and resolve to be a digital leader.
What can we learn from SCA and Sinclair’s digital strategies? Much like buying a new house in that oh so new neighbourhood…
- Leverage your data - Your insights will drive deals. How well you understand your own strengths will determine how well you understand digital and its potential.
- Hire the savvy - Just as working with a real estate agent knows the neighborhood is critical, hiring a social media savvy team that is already well versed in digital goes a long way.
- Take educated risks - Research the comparables and ROI of industry members that are active with digital. Understand the ups and downs of embracing the technology and learn how others have experienced growth.
Understanding and taking advantage of digital radio trends is key, as demonstrated by these two companies who do things differently!