Apple, Spotify and Pandora still pale compared to radio in the car
Cooley On Cars
With all the buzz and headlines and trend lines, you would think it's all podcasts and pure play streaming in car these days.
But in fact the numbers tell us that is still a long way from the truth.
Here all the new tricks radios using to stay king of the road.
Still among younger drivers owning younger model year cars or at the junction of the two, there's still a significant growth rate of course around podcasts and pure play streaming.
So Sirius XM finds itself in an interesting position.
The former disruptor is now at risk of being disrupted, so their answer to that is something called Sirius XM 360L.
It rolls in the satellite radio content like it always has.
But also, on demand content, streams, and back catalogue material, not just what's live on the satellite channels at a given moment.
That's a new thing for Sirius XM.
Some more tricks.
If you go to the sports button over here, you can check out live sports.
And also if you go to the play by play screens, you can find your favorite teams.
And when you're listening to a broadcast, you'll actually see graphics of the current play by play stats, kind of like I'm one of those web streams.
Under many stations, you can also go to a new feature here, this little bell called notify.
If it's applicable on that station, you can be notified of other content of that type as it airs on any of the stations or channels on satellite radio.
That's a nice way to be scanning it all the time.
And not you having to be turning the knob all the time and saying, I wonder if it's playing over here.
This will let you know.
Down below notifies a search icon that initiate a voice search for just about anything.
It could be a show name, it could be a team name, or it could be an artist name you want to listen to and it'll pull up all your choices whether they're alive.
Live satellite broadcast now, or some kind of on-demand content.
Of course, as with anything internet connected, you gotta have recommendations, right?
Everyone's in the recommendation game, and Sirius XM360L does that as well.
Somehow this bizarre list of content is recommended for me or whoever else has been driving this truck lately but it's an interesting way of saying let's narrow down and winnow the huge width of satellite radio and try to make it a little more focused for you.
And Sirius XM has partnered with Pandora to integrate creation of personalized streaming stations inside the 360L interface based on the artists you see there.
It'll be available to you if you subscribe to Sirius XM at their top pricing level, but the Pandora stations will at least be ad free.
Now the bad news Sirius XM costs a lot of money.
It's currently $11 to $21 on a monthly basis.
But in a world where Netflix is only nine to $16 on a monthly basis that's a little bit discordant to me and I think maybe to you as well.
As a result, we're gonna show you a lot of low cost or free versions of modernized in dash radio.
Now the big overhaul that came to radio a number of years ago was HD Radio A lot of you may have this and have not explored it in your car so let's cover this first.
HD radio does a lot of things.
That's part of why it's a little complicated.
It maintains the analogue stations you've already got.
And with all the noise they may have.
It also creates a digital version of those same stations AM or FM.
They can sound a lot cleaner, although coverage may be spottier, depending where you live.
And then thirdly it adds these sort of additional stations, HD1 and HD2 like you see right here.
Those are entirely separate formats or additional channels from the same provider that usually have completely different content, so you've got a lot of things going with HD Radio.
I would argue HD Radio has been somewhat confusing to a lot of consumers.
It came along at a time when many of them were not exactly hungry for more radio, they were starting to tilt over to new interactive forms of audio.
So its timing wasn't great.
About 60 million cars in the US have HD Radio.
I don't think 60 million people who own those cars are using it actively.
And that's out of about 250 million cars around the US.
So it's a minority slice.
That said if you've got an HD Radio setting in your car and you've never played with it, play with it.
It's the first step to revolutionising broadcast radio.
Now let's go to our apps that roll up broadcast radio.
Remember not going into Pandora and Spotify only pure Play Services.
This is all about modernizing radio through the internet And the king of those still has to be TuneIn, the largest aggregator of radio station streams.
It has about 100,000 radio stations sharing their streams through it from all over the world and millions of podcasts as well.
It has numerous MLB and NHL games.
And tune it is supported by a lot of carmakers many of them embedded into their in that state.
Then there's iheart the I heart radio app which comes from the iheart media company they are the largest single group of stations in the U.
They've also got the stations of a number of their frenemies.
A number of other radio station conglomerates are in here as well but it's still not nearly as encompassing and wide as tune ins array of stations which dwarfs this but tune in is also a global assortment on top of that.
I heart also has podcast and other special content that is derived from their media company in particular, it's going to be more hit and miss about finding your favorite podcast.
Many of the ones I listen to aren't in here, some are.
It's big, but it's not universal.
Speaking of not universal, that brings us to the radio.com app.
Now these stations used to all appear.
You're on tune in.
They used to be the KCBS radio stations.
Now they're owned by a company called intercom.
And they decided to pull their stations off, tune in and stick them on this app called radio.
So it's a very siloed garden.
And it's a here or nowhere approach.
That's pretty controversial.
But if there are major stations in your area that are part of this group,this is how you listen to them as a stream.
That said, it still covers 235 stations in 45 metro areas.
And like everything else these days it's also a podcast aggregator, but not as comprehensive as what you probably use as a podcast aggregator.
Now let's turn away from all these different apps and go to what's happening in the radio industry itself.
Some things you may not have heard of.
One of them is kinda come and gone is NextRadio.
You may wonder what happened to this.
We've talked about it a couple of times.
This was from the MS Broadcasting Corporation, which own stations primarily in Indianapolis and New York City don't ask.
And they had this idea of pulling internet and radio together.
Broadcast signal comes in, but it's augmented through an app, using the FM radio chip in some but not all phones.
To give you an interactive experience with album art, some meta data, some basic inner activity but mostly a broadcast coming into your phone.
They basically have shelved it and if you're looking for the latest on it, don't look.
Instead, take a look at something called a hybrid radial.
This is a global standards organization trying to get the content creators, the broadcasters and the radio makers especially in cars.
To be on the same level of broadcast plus internet connection, plus lots of rich data and interactivity.
For things like visuals of album art, or whether metadata so a broadcast can be tagged, categorized, and treated as a data, object and interactivity through either a radio or an app, you could press a button to tag or bookmark thing.
All of this is meant to please carmakers and consumers who've been getting a rich consistent presentation on the streaming platforms and then find it's much more of a Hodge podge of quality and format on broadcast platform.
Hybrid radio is said to be offered on around 80 percent of radio content in the E. U. it's basically unheard of in the U. S..
The US National Association of Broadcasters and Audi are doing early US trials.
DTS Connected Radio is another hybrid of FM broadcast and wireless internet data.
It;s from Xperi which is the same company that owns the technology behind HD radio.
It also offers a radio experience that has rich metadata for visuals and interactivity, as well as rich visual and audio emergency alerts that are currently only found on HD Radio.
The folks behind DTS connected radio promise the first car with the technology will be in showrooms in 2020.
though they're not saying what card that will be.
Now this all suggests that perhaps hybrid radio, DTS connected radio, car makers and broadcasters are about to get together and have a breakthrough in modernizing broadcast radio.
Maybe in 2020 or soon thereafter.
But I've heard this before with the promise of AM stereo, RDS, and HD radio, all of which delivered less than a revolution.
So I'm not gonna hold my breath, but I am hopeful.
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