Cable Is About To Get More Expensive

There is a bidding war going on among cable providers, networks and sports franchises.

Maybe you noticed the almost $300 million CBS is paying for some early season games on Thursday nights while the NFL gets the Thursday games for its own network as the sports race heats up later in the season.

The average cable household is paying $6 a month to have ESPN content whether they want it or not.

Want the Philadelphia Flyers games on Comcast Sportsnet in Philly? Even with the cheapest basic cable package you’ll pay $90 a month. The cable systems are passing their costs of acquiring sports rights on to audiences faster than the audience can say I don’t want them.

This is insane for many reasons and one that few people see.

Millennials don’t like sports the way previous generations do.

Go to a game and watch young people having fun on their phones, forget the game.

Football especially has generational problems because Gen X parents – especially moms – are rethinking whether they want their kids playing high school football. Many parents are concerned about whether they want to expose their children to concussions that could cause memory problems and expose their children to dementia later in life.

When a sport cools down in high school, it affects college and as hard as it is to believe on the eve of the next Super Bowl, sports has a problem with the Millennial generation.

We may look back on these times as great days for sports but in spite of what cable operators and networks will still pay for sports, it’s not a slam dunk going forward.

But you’d never know that to see baby boomer media execs making fools out of themselves to get in bidding wars over broadcast rights.

Why?

Because sports still brings them massive audiences and they can sell it. Their own prime time programming, on the other hand, is declining in ratings and increasing in older demographics.

Time Warner, Cablevision and other smaller cable companies are increasing their fees to pay for sports content as is DirecTV whose fees will increase by almost 6% this year. Of course, you can negotiate with them by cancelling – cable companies and satellite providers are losing subscribers at the fastest pace ever.

None of this makes sense.

Owners and operators do what they want even if it flies in the face of what audiences want. They’ll watch sports on free TV but they’re not going to pay for increased costs for sports rights.

Yes, Gen X and baby boom audiences want sports, but when you consider that Millennials are cord cutters and will not pay for television (other than Netflix, Hulu and custom content channels they choose), it doesn’t bode well.

Remember that Comcast is about to takeover Time Warner after the government rolls over on that monopoly.

And cable companies like Cablevision are getting into the phone business. You may have heard about Freewheel which is Cablevision’s $29.95 a month cellphone service that works only on WiFi.

Talk about disrupting – this could kill the mobile phone business.

Pity.

Radio is free and you can’t give it away.

God knows Jeff Smulyan has done everything he can to turn a cellphone into a Walkman and still, very few people want it.

iHeart says it has 60 million registered users but silly iHeart doesn’t track listening sessions as Pandora does.

Know why?

Because it is nearly impossible to listen to terrestrial radio on a mobile device with all those commercials and music repetition.

The dilemma for content providers is to change the way you think about audiences and you will do great things.

That’s the premise of my next media seminar in Philly in about 7 weeks from now.

Just for the heck of it, look at radio’s biggest problems below and make your goals match what we know about emerging audiences – 95 million Millennials many already in the money demo.

  1. Too Many Commercials – Stations want to sell more ads for more competitive prices (translation: cheap ads) so they cram 16 or more minutes of them into each hour. Then they use PPM as their guide for placement of these commercials. How spots are scheduled can make a difference. Also, the length of spots in each stop set.  There is much that can be done.  To proceed as is is not a solution.
  2. Unremarkable Programming For 70 Million Baby Boomers – Radio is guessing about Millennials and making incorrect assumptions about aging Baby Boomers. Baby boomers have been radio’s most loyal listeners but that’s changing now. Ignore baby boomers, target them or better yet discover what the two disparate groups have in common.  I think I can surprise you with what Baby Boomers and Millennials both want from radio that they are not now getting.
  3. Outdated Morning Shows – Radio needs to sell traffic, transit, weather and even news to earn revenue and they want to cut costs by firing popular personalities and replacing them with cheaper alternatives. Listeners like personalities but increasingly they don’t like much else about morning shows. So it would make sense to focus on three new features to replace traffic, time checks and weather. Things they can’t get on their cellphones. Consider these three potent options to replace tired old staples of morning radio. (And you can sell them!)
  4. Repetitive Music – Audiences have always hated music repetition on radio for decades but they had few alternatives. After all, somehow it gets ratings. But now it’s not that easy because listeners have alternative means to easily access music discovery. Two new strategies show promise. One adds more new music without watering down the hits. The better approach is to rip up the traditional playlist and present the music differently.
  5. Declining TSL – Radio TSL has been down every year since the early 90’s. Under 30’s don’t even listen to any song all the way through even though music radio is built on the assumption that if you play the right songs, the audience will stay tuned in. Now, there is a way to keep listeners from straying and it isn’t longer music sweeps.
  6. Listeners Don’t Like the Way Stations Talk to Them – Sounds dated, insincere. Too much bragging and hype. It all sounds like radio is out of touch. Talking down to listeners whether we mean to or not.  Surprising words that turn off young audiences when used on the air, in promos, sweepers, imaging and commercials. Learn them and overcome this objection.
  7. Radio Is Not Authentic – Demographers have discovered 5 things that Millennials crave. Do these 5 things every hour of every day and radio becomes more relevant to the 95 million members of this age group.  One of the 5 things they crave is more authenticity. Learn the fastest way to master being truly authentic to Millennials but also the four other expectations that radio is currently not meeting.  They are screaming this out for you to hear.
  8. Lack of Music Variety and Customization – Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are killing radio when it comes to variety and customization. There may be no way to compete with that, but audiences are beginning to tell us what these streaming services are lacking presenting a great opportunity for responsive radio stations to do what streaming services cannot do.
  9. Outdated News and Talk – Two staple radio formats are seeing audiences erode or attracting unsellable aging demographics.  News stations don’t just sound like their father’s radio station – they sound like their grandfathers radio station. Droning on and on with sleepy features designed for station sales managers not for listeners to crave. Conservative talk is also over because audiences want compromise not red meat. And Progressive talk radio never really worked. It’s a no-win. But spoken word is something young Millennials like, really like – here is the spoken word station of the future (bring an open mind).
  10. Don’t Know Where the AM Band Is – Think about it. There’s nothing for audiences under 60 on AM. So you may be thinking that younger money demos won’t listen to an AM station, right? True, unless … well, I’ll show you a number of things you could do on two tin cans hooked together with a string that Millennials would eat up.  Will you take that challenge?  Because I’m going to do it and you’re going to want to brainstorm on it. Forget the FCC. AM needs to disrupt FM the way FM disrupted AM.

PLUS, What Audiences REALLY Want In Digital Content …

There is nothing worse than doing something well that doesn’t need to be done at all. Some stations are doing impressive digital initiatives that audiences simply don’t care about.

Instead, drill down on what listeners really want in digital and get a better return on your investment in time and money:

  1. Storytelling Instead of Podcasting
  2. Short-Form Video Revenue Stream
  3. Non-hyped Social Media Beyond Facebook and Twitter
  4. Content Audiences Can Binge on Just Like They Do Netflix
  5. Apps Not Websites (and That Includes Radio)

Our day together is worth your time and investment.

A clearly defined agenda, creative and innovative solutions to apply and a forum to discuss and hitchhike on new ideas that you hear.

Independent broadcasters and digital entrepreneurs are invited to the 6th annual Media Solutions Seminar at the Hub Conference Center March 18th in Philadelphia, walking distance from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and 20 minutes from Philadelphia International Airport.

Buffet breakfast, lunch and all breaks prepared by James Beard award-winning chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, former executive chef at The Four Seasons included.

Less than 8 weeks from today to reserve a seat at the next Media Solutions Conference.

Register Now

Contact Jerry about the conference and group rates here.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

Ex-Employees To Sue iHeart for Nearly $1 Billion

Payback is a bitch.

And that bitch is soon going to haunt the financially troubled iHeartMedia.

Brought by ex-employees who are madder than hell and looking for their pound of flesh.

Here’s what we know …

  • When this massive civil lawsuit will likely be filed against iHeart.
  • How much money iHeart is secretly earmarking just in case they have to settle out of court like they usually do – it will likely cost even more if they lose a jury trial.
  • The dirty trick iHeart is using to prevent employees leaving the company from not joining the group of litigators.
  • How all of this fits in to that sketchy iHeart employee questionnaire that popped up out of nowhere last week – this is very, very sneaky and now requires extra caution.
  • The repercussions for toxic workplaces such as Cumulus if these ex-iHeart employees prevail.
  • From a person who successfully sued Clear Channel, the surprising chances of these ex-employees winning.

Access this story now

Report news in confidence here.

Less than 2 months until my Philly media conference. Register Now. Inquire about group rates here.

Start your day on a positive note “Hire Yourself Every Morning” on my motivational website here.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

7 In 10 TV Viewers Stream

A new CEA/NATPE study shows only 55% of Millennials view programming on an actual TV.

Laptops, tablets and smartphones are headed to be the replacement for traditional television.

Other interesting findings:

  • The Millennial group (13-34) is more likely to watch full-length TV shows from a streaming source (84% streamed in the past six months). They watch live TV 54% of the time and DVR’s 33%.
  • 51% of Millennials consider Netflix more important than cable or TV. I wish I still owned Netflix stock last week when it climbed $100 a share.
  • Older Gen Xers like video on-demand (76% watch video on-demand once a week). DVRs are used to avoid commercials.
  • Multi-screen viewing is increasing. Millennials are fine watching Game of Thrones on a tablet or laptop – even a smartphone.

I mention all of this because today’s money demo consumers are platform agnostic.

Unfortunately, radio is not.

If a radio company paid $100 million for a cluster of stations in a given market or two they have this feeling of denial that clouds their thinking.

We keep getting studies to confirm that audiences will listen or watch content anywhere as long as they can control what they are consuming and even how much they get to consume.

That would be bingeing – a video concept radio stations would be wise to explore.

When radio stations create content that can only be consumed the way it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago on and for a radio, you can see where the first problem is.

Therefore, radio stations should sign off.

Not off the air, but sign off as only a radio station and if you’re going to do radio, do the best radio ever. Sadly, we both know that is not the case now.

They need to reset their focus to being creators of content.

This can, of course, include live 24/7 radio but it had better be more.

When you see the ad revenue tumbling in major markets – iHeart’s excellent LA cluster off double digits and Cumulus’ Chicago cluster off 30% -- it shouldn’t take much to realize that radio needs to face a few realities.

Become more platform agnostic – make separate content for as many devices as possible.

Stop programming for PPM and upend traditional hot clocks to create a new source of programming. Listeners are not PPM. They are nothing like it. To program to PPM is to hurt yourself.

Reduce radio’s reliance on simple music formats (short playlists cranking out music that is easily available in streaming music services or personal playlists).

Embrace storytelling – if you’re coming to Philly for my conference, I will wager that one of the most useful discussions is how to do storytelling on the air.

Millennial listeners love storytelling and sorry, storytelling is not podcasting. Or as I like to kid my friend Norm Pattiz of PodcastOne, podcasting is just a way for Norm to make more money doing Westwood One again online. It’s spoken word radio on the Internet – not going to fly with Millennials.

For radio operators, it is too dangerous to sit home and simply repeat last year.

I’ve isolated the 10 things that can make the biggest difference to radio stations if you are willing to think differently about them.

Here’s a quick sample:

  1. Too Many Commercials – How spots are scheduled can make a difference. Also, the length of spots in each stop set. There is much that can be done. To proceed as is is not a solution.
  2. Unremarkable Programming For 70 Million Baby Boomers – All the focus is on young money demo Millennials. Baby boomers have been radio’s most loyal listeners but that’s changing now. Ignore baby boomers, target them or better yet discover what the two disparate groups have in common.      
  3. Outdated Morning Shows – They like personalities but increasingly they don’t like much else about morning shows.  Focus on three new features to replace traffic, time checks and weather. Yes, they don’t need them. But consider these three potent options to replace tired old staples of morning radio. (And you can sell them!)
  4. Music That Is Too Repetitive – Audiences have hated music repetition on radio for decades but they had few alternatives. Not so anymore. Two new strategies show promise. One adds more new music without watering down the hits. The better approach is to rip up the traditional playlist and present the music differently.
  5. No Compelling Reason To Listen Longer – Radio TSL has been down every year since the early 90’s. Under 30’s don’t even listen to any song all the way through even though music radio is built on the assumption that if you play the right songs, the audience will stay tuned in. Now, there is a way to keep listeners from straying and it isn’t longer music sweeps.
  6. Don’t Like the Way Stations Talk To Them – Sounds dated, insincere. Too much bragging and hype. It all sounds like radio is out of touch. Talking down to listeners whether we mean to or not.  Surprising words that turn off young audiences when used on the air, in promos, sweepers, imaging and commercials. Learn them and overcome this objection.
  7. Radio Is Not Authentic – Demographers have discovered 5 things that Millennials crave. Do these 5 things every hour of every day and radio becomes more relevant to the 95 million members of this age group.  One of the 5 things they crave is more authenticity. Learn the fastest way to master being truly authentic to Millennials but also the four other expectations that radio is currently not meeting.  They are screaming this out for you to hear.
  8. Lack of Music Variety and Customization – Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are killing radio when it comes to variety and customization. There may be no way to compete with that, but audiences are beginning to tell us what these streaming services are lacking presenting a great opportunity for responsive radio stations to do what streaming services cannot do.
  9. Outdated News and Talk – Two staple radio formats are seeing audiences erode or attracting unsellable aging demographics.  News stations don’t just sound like their father’s radio station – they sound like their grandfathers radio station. Droning on and on with sleepy features designed for station sales managers not for listeners to crave. Conservative talk is also over because audiences want compromise not red meat. And Progressive talk radio never really worked. It’s a no-win. But spoken word is something young Millennials like, really like – here is the spoken word station of the future (bring an open mind).
  10. Don’t Know Where the AM Band Is – Think about it. There’s nothing for audiences under 60 on AM. So you may be thinking that younger money demos won’t listen to an AM station, right? True, unless … well, I’ll show you a number of things you could do on two tin cans hooked together with a string that Millennials would eat up.  Will you take that challenge?  Because I’m going to do it and you’re going to want to brainstorm on it. Forget the FCC. AM needs to disrupt FM the way FM disrupted AM.

PLUS, What Audiences REALLY Want In Digital Content …

There is nothing worse than doing something well that doesn’t need to be done at all. Some stations are doing impressive digital initiatives that audiences simply don’t care about.

Instead, drill down on what listeners really want in digital and get a better return on your investment in time and money:

  1. Storytelling Instead of Podcasting
  2. Short-Form Video Revenue Stream
  3. Non-hyped Social Media Beyond Facebook and Twitter
  4. Content Audiences Can Binge on Just Like They Do Netflix
  5. Apps Not Websites (and That Includes Radio)

This is a day worth your time and investment.

A clearly defined agenda, creative and innovative solutions to apply and a forum to discuss and hitchhike on new ideas that you hear.

Independent broadcasters and digital entrepreneurs are invited to the 6th annual Media Solutions Seminar at the Hub Conference Center March 18th in Philadelphia, walking distance from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and 20 minutes from Philadelphia International Airport.

Buffet breakfast, lunch and all breaks prepared by James Beard award-winning chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, former executive chef at The Four Seasons included.

Less than 8 weeks from today to reserve as seat at the next Media Solutions Conference.

Register Now

Contact Jerry about the conference and group rates here.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

Secret Lew Dickey Employee Meeting Revealed

The Tricky One is on the road visiting markets and talking to employees in private behind closed doors.

Unfortunately as much as Super Lew tries to keep his employees bound and gagged, many wind up leaving these meetings feeling dirty.

Lew’s Magical Mystery Tour is coming to take them away.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could know what Dickey actually tells the people in his underperforming company to motivate them.

Does he walk on hot coals? Or make them walk on hot coals?

Well, thanks to our Witness Protection Program, which protects whistleblowers from having their genitals cut off, we can now tear away the veil of secrecy and bring you Lew Dickey revealed.

Dickey unplugged at the Cumulus Fresno cluster Wednesday.

  • Let’s get to the good stuff – how Lew really feels about Les Moonves and CBS Radio in candid remarks to employees.
  • Cumulus is not a radio company – here’s what he said Cumulus is in his own words.
  • On live and local radio.
  • What Dickey thinks is the disease Bob Pittman has.
  • Mouthing off about iHeart’s $20.5 billion debt issue and what he said about Cumulus’ own debt.
  • Lew’s delusional plan to be debt-free and when.
  • His latest thoughts on the hated CRM software for sales called Engage.
  • “Don't feel like we are against you, it's not Atlanta versus the markets” – an eyewitness account that only Dr. Phil could analyze.
  • The number one quality Lew is looking for in salespeople and it’s not likeability – in the words of a Cumulus employee who attended the secret meeting.

Access this story now

Report news in confidence here.

Less than 2 months until my Philly media conference. Register Now. Inquire about group rates here.

Start your day on a positive note “Stop Trying to Improve Everything” on my motivational website here.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

YouTube Stars

Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address was aired on all the traditional television networks guaranteeing that older viewers would be watching when President Obama spelled out his new agenda.

More than anyone else, President Obama should know how important the digital world is – after all, it helped get him reach the younger voters who elected him twice.

That’s why he agreed to do interviews with three YouTube stars who you probably never heard of – GloZell Green, Bethany Mota and Hank Green.

Among them, these three YouTube stars alone have 14 million subscribers and you can bet they lean toward the younger side.

YouTube is everything.

YouTube is the future.

YouTube is Top 40 radio to teenagers and search that rivals Google for many other people.

It strikes me as odd that you can be in the radio business and go months, years or forever without having anyone even utter the word YouTube let alone have a game plan for engaging this powerful new tool.

As we morph into the new age of media, the rules have changed.

Information and entertainment is no longer delivered on a dedicated device like TV, radio or newspaper.

They all appear together on smartphones, tablets, computers and they are easily accessible through apps.

The radio industry has been living in deep denial since the Internet revolution began.

That there will always be radio listeners – try asking a Millennial about that.

That morning shows, time, weather, traffic and jokes are a necessity to start the day.

That you turn to a radio in a news crisis.

I’m thinking radio needs to rethink content creation in a disruptive new way.

Rethink the way their continuous 24/7 stations are formatted.

Create separate programming with non-radio stars as part of its YouTube presence.

We must get out of the mindset that what we create on radio is destined to be delivered via streaming, digital and social media.

Marshall McLuhan said “The medium is the message”.

Today, “The message is the medium”.

There are lots of ways to interact with audiences.

We need to get to work on the message – the content, the things that are of value and not available elsewhere.

At my upcoming media conference in Philly, we’re going to examine how to do the best radio we’ve ever done on-the-air and simultaneously create separate revenue streams based on new opportunities that we are currently ignoring.

We can make a real difference not by doing the same things, but also by drilling down with innovative thinking on these following ten problems that must be solved to have a positive outcome in 2015.

  1. Too Many Commercials – How spots are scheduled can make a difference.       Also, the length of spots in each stop set. There is much that can be done. To proceed as is is not a solution.
  2. Unremarkable Programming For 70 Million Baby Boomers – All the focus is on young money demo Millennials. Baby boomers have been radio’s most loyal listeners but that’s changing now. Ignore baby boomers, target them or better yet discover what the two disparate groups have in common.      
  3. Outdated Morning Shows – They like personalities but increasingly they don’t like much else about morning shows.  Focus on three new features to replace traffic, time checks and weather. Yes, they don’t need them. But consider these three potent options to replace tired old staples of morning radio. (And you can sell them!)
  4. Music That Is Too Repetitive – Audiences have hated music repetition on radio for decades but they had few alternatives. Not so anymore. Two new strategies show promise. One adds more new music without watering down the hits. The better approach is to rip up the traditional playlist and present the music differently.
  5. No Compelling Reason To Listen Longer – Radio TSL has been down every year since the early 90’s. Under 30’s don’t even listen to any song all the way through even though music radio is built on the assumption that if you play the right songs, the audience will stay tuned in. Now, there is a way to keep listeners from straying and it isn’t longer music sweeps.
  6. Don’t Like the Way Stations Talk To Them – Sounds dated, insincere. Too much bragging and hype. It all sounds like radio is out of touch. Talking down to listeners whether we mean to or not.  Surprising words that turn off young audiences when used on the air, in promos, sweepers, imaging and commercials. Learn them and overcome this objection.
  7. Radio Is Not Authentic – Demographers have discovered 5 things that Millennials crave. Do these 5 things every hour of every day and radio becomes more relevant to the 95 million members of this age group.  One of the 5 things they crave is more authenticity. Learn the fastest way to master being truly authentic to Millennials but also the four other expectations that radio is currently not meeting.  They are screaming this out for you to hear.
  8. Lack of Music Variety and Customization – Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are killing radio when it comes to variety and customization. There may be no way to compete with that, but audiences are beginning to tell us what these streaming services are lacking presenting a great opportunity for responsive radio stations to do what streaming services cannot do.
  9. Outdated News and Talk – Two staple radio formats are seeing audiences erode or attracting unsellable aging demographics.  News stations don’t just sound like their father’s radio station – they sound like their grandfathers radio station. Droning on and on with sleepy features designed for station sales managers not for listeners to crave. Conservative talk is also over because audiences want compromise not red meat. And Progressive talk radio never really worked. It’s a no-win. But spoken word is something young Millennials like, really like – here is the spoken word station of the future (bring an open mind).
  10. Don’t Know Where the AM Band Is – Think about it. There’s nothing for audiences under 60 on AM. So you may be thinking that younger money demos won’t listen to an AM station, right? True, unless … well, I’ll show you a number of things you could do on two tin cans hooked together with a string that Millennials would eat up.  Will you take that challenge?  Because I’m going to do it and you’re going to want to brainstorm on it. Forget the FCC. AM needs to disrupt FM the way FM disrupted AM.

PLUS, What Audiences REALLY Want In Digital Content …

There is nothing worse than doing something well that doesn’t need to be done at all. Some stations are doing impressive digital initiatives that audiences simply don’t care about.

Instead, drill down on what listeners really want in digital and get a better return on your investment in time and money:

  1. Storytelling Instead of Podcasting
  2. Short-Form Video Revenue Stream
  3. Non-hyped Social Media Beyond Facebook and Twitter
  4. Content Audiences Can Binge on Just Like They Do Netflix
  5. Apps Not Websites (and That Includes Radio)

This is a day worth your time and investment.

A clearly defined agenda, creative and innovative solutions to apply and a forum to discuss and hitchhike on new ideas that you hear.

Independent broadcasters and digital entrepreneurs are invited to the 6th annual Media Solutions Seminar at the Hub Conference Center March 18th in Philadelphia, walking distance from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and 20 minutes from Philadelphia International Airport.

Buffet breakfast, lunch and all breaks prepared by James Beard award-winning chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, former executive chef at The Four Seasons included.

Less than 2 months from today until the Media Solutions Conference.

Register Now

Contact Jerry about the conference and group rates here.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

The Dangerous New iHeart Employee Survey

I saw a radio trade quote an unnamed iHeart employee as saying nothing terrible happened the last time Bain did one of these surveys so maybe this time workers will be willing to speak up.

There is a big price for participating in a “voluntary” survey that local managers are pressured by corporate to make mandatory.

A lot of chutzpah for a company that is $20.5 billion in debt and selling off outdoor, tower real estate, the satellite operations, 50% interest in The Australian Radio Network and likely some radio stations.

With bankruptcy on the table! Are they kidding?

There were two major layoffs last year alone and thousands fired since the last Clear Channel Employee Survey.

  • What does iHeart really want from this employee survey.
  • Can what you say in this new survey be used against employees.
  • Throwback to the last one: how many managers were either disciplined or forced to take sensitivity training when employees complained about them.
  • What happens if you don’t take the test.
  • What were the real repercussions and benefits the last time – and what’s likely this time once iHeart tallies the results.
  • The biggest disadvantage of volunteering to take the questionnaire.

Access this story now

Report news in confidence here.

Less than 2 months until my Philly media conference. Register Now. Inquire about group rates here.

Start your day on a positive note “Put a Stop to Being Ignored” on my motivational website here.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

The Rapid Growth of Netflix

Netflix stock rose $60.48 cents when trading closed yesterday to end at $409.28.

Netflix can be a volatile stock, but there is no denying its appeal not only to consumers but also to shareholders.

The market liked that Netflix beat its estimates for new subscribers outside the U.S. and that there is a lot more upside left. Netflix is in 50 countries and it wants to operate in 190+ so you can see why the stock price jumped.

More importantly Netflix is a business the radio industry ought to seriously study.

Not too many years ago Netflix was a snail mail dependent business when digital was just beginning to come of age. They were making plenty of money renting movies to customers but the future was not assured.

Just ask Blockbuster which went down in flames at the hands of the digital revolution when it refused to blow up its old model and innovate a new one.

Netflix not only adapted and moved toward their current digital market at about the same price per month as their mail service but also disrupted the network television business and cable in ways they couldn’t see coming.

Parallels to radio would be – a traditional medium, dependent on analog listening as an infinite number of new devices became available – namely the smartphone.

Netflix moved their business to digital.

Radio moved their business to digital streaming.

So why didn’t it work?

Streaming rarely makes money and in fact allows advertisers to bargain for lower on-air rates when they buy streaming (or vice versa).

Netflix encouraged binge watching – another disruption, this time a sociological one where consumers could take control of how much, when and where they could binge on content.

Suddenly network television was so not necessary. HBO caught on when it wisely launched HBO Go. If you had a cable subscription, you got HBO Go. Now you can just get HBO Go with no cable subscription – another disruption.

Hulu Plus modeled themselves after Netflix. Even CBS had to make its programming available on an app but did not include pro football and included a time delay for programming that aired on their local affiliates – a weak proposition.

Radio became background noise for riding in a car. Station owners were more interested in cutting expenses than creating new content, which, of course, is what Netflix went and did by doing deals for original programming like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and lately Marco Polo.

Netflix changed listening habits.

Radio allowed digital competitors and devices to change their listening habits.

The takeaway from all of this is that the radio industry can learn the path to success from Netflix.

Create content for bingeing – not just 24/7 programming.

No one does this – and they had better learn how.

Institute subscription fees for some kinds of programming.

No radio content is apparently even worth $1 a month – I can tell you people will pay for something unique.

Don’t get distracted by podcasting which is tantamount to spoken word radio repackaged for the Internet – and learn how to do storytelling, an entirely new approach to content.

These are some of the things I am going to curate at my upcoming media conference in Philadelphia in less than 2 months from now. It’s worth your time because doing the same old thing over and over again is not an answer to the digital revolution.

And now with more Millennials than Baby Boomers – some as old as 33 and smack dab in the money demo sweet spot, we can do this – and must do this.

Here are radio’s top 10 critical problems – our goal is to attack them in innovative ways.

We can make a real difference not by doing the same things, but also by drilling down with innovative thinking on these following ten problems that must be solved to have a positive outcome in 2015.

  1. Too Many Commercials – How spots are scheduled can make a difference.       Also, the length of spots in each stop set. There is much that can be done. To proceed as is is not a solution.
  2. Unremarkable Programming For 70 Million Baby Boomers – All the focus is on young money demo Millennials. Baby boomers have been radio’s most loyal listeners but that’s changing now. Ignore baby boomers, target them or better yet discover what the two disparate groups have in common.  
  3. Outdated Morning Shows – They like personalities but increasingly they don’t like much else about morning shows.  Focus on three new features to replace traffic, time checks and weather. Yes, they don’t need them. But consider these three potent options to replace tired old staples of morning radio. (And you can sell them!)
  4. Music That Is Too Repetitive – Audiences have hated music repetition on radio for decades but they had few alternatives. Not so anymore. Two new strategies show promise. One adds more new music without watering down the hits. The better approach is to rip up the traditional playlist and present the music differently.
  5. No Compelling Reason To Listen Longer – Radio TSL has been down every year since the early 90’s. Under 30’s don’t even listen to any song all the way through even though music radio is built on the assumption that if you play the right songs, the audience will stay tuned in. Now, there is a way to keep listeners from straying and it isn’t longer music sweeps.
  6. Don’t Like the Way Stations Talk To Them – Sounds dated, insincere. Too much bragging and hype. It all sounds like radio is out of touch. Talking down to listeners whether we mean to or not.  Surprising words that turn off young audiences when used on the air, in promos, sweepers, imaging and commercials. Learn them and overcome this objection.
  7. Radio Is Not Authentic – Demographers have discovered 5 things that Millennials crave. Do these 5 things every hour of every day and radio becomes more relevant to the 95 million members of this age group.  One of the 5 things they crave is more authenticity. Learn the fastest way to master being truly authentic to Millennials but also the four other expectations that radio is currently not meeting.  They are screaming this out for you to hear.
  8. Lack of Music Variety and Customization – Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are killing radio when it comes to variety and customization. There may be no way to compete with that, but audiences are beginning to tell us what these streaming services are lacking presenting a great opportunity for responsive radio stations to do what streaming services cannot do.
  9. Outdated News and Talk – Two staple radio formats are seeing audiences erode or attracting unsellable aging demographics.  News stations don’t just sound like their father’s radio station – they sound like their grandfathers radio station. Droning on and on with sleepy features designed for station sales managers not for listeners to crave. Conservative talk is also over because audiences want compromise not red meat. And Progressive talk radio never really worked. It’s a no-win. But spoken word is something young Millennials like, really like – here is the spoken word station of the future (bring an open mind).
  10. Don’t Know Where the AM Band Is – Think about it. There’s nothing for audiences under 60 on AM. So you may be thinking that younger money demos won’t listen to an AM station, right? True, unless … well, I’ll show you a number of things you could do on two tin cans hooked together with a string that Millennials would eat up.  Will you take that challenge?  Because I’m going to do it and you’re going to want to brainstorm on it. Forget the FCC. AM needs to disrupt FM the way FM disrupted AM.

PLUS, What Audiences REALLY Want In Digital Content …

There is nothing worse than doing something well that doesn’t need to be done at all. Some stations are doing impressive digital initiatives that audiences simply don’t care about.

Instead, drill down on what listeners really want in digital and get a better return on your investment in time and money:

  1. Storytelling Instead of Podcasting
  2. Short-Form Video Revenue Stream
  3. Non-hyped Social Media Beyond Facebook and Twitter
  4. Content Audiences Can Binge on Just Like They Do Netflix
  5. Apps Not Websites (and That Includes Radio)

This is a day worth your time and investment.

A clearly defined agenda, creative and innovative solutions to apply and a forum to discuss and hitchhike on new ideas that you hear.

Independent broadcasters and digital entrepreneurs are invited to the 6th annual Media Solutions Seminar at the Hub Conference Center March 18th in Philadelphia, walking distance from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and 20 minutes from Philadelphia International Airport.

Buffet breakfast, lunch and all breaks prepared by James Beard award-winning chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, former executive chef at The Four Seasons included.

Less than 2 months from today.

Register Now

Contact Jerry about the conference and group rates here.

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