In a fascinating Radiodays Europe session called “Stream Battle,” popular U.S.-based researcher Larry Rosin and Europe-based researcher/consultant Christian Schalt presented the findings of a unique research study they conducted on behalf of Austrian broadcaster Kronehit, accompanied by Kronehit PD Rüdiger Landgraf.
In that study, two groups of women in Kronehit’s target audience were provided with special smartphones that were pre-loaded with four online radio apps — Kronehit (which includes a number of linear, curated sidechannels), competitor Ö3 (which offers some on-demand elements (e.g., newscasts)), the free version of Spotify, and a jailbroken version of Pandora (which is not officially available in Europe) (and for which some English proficiency was required).
Rudiger explained, “The women carried our special smartphones for two weeks, asked to use only one of the four pre-loaded apps. To make the study affordable, we bought Chinese smartphones, had to remove their spyware, and then added ours.”
Rosin noted that as the two-week test went on, usage of Kronehit and Pandora increased.
Schalt conducted two focus groups, from which video excerpts were shown: “I did not have to put much work into Spotify; it just worked.” “Pandora really easy, great songs for hours.” Another respondent described satisfaction with Kronehit four regular and three seasonal side channels.
Conclusions: (1) According to Rosin, Pandora did great, despite no previous familiarity. “Over and over again, we saw the power of the music choice algorithm — 50 billion thumbs to powerfully predict what song you might want to hear next.” (2) The ‘radio’ apps were surprisingly competitive with the pureplays, in particular Kronehits’s workaround with their curated stations. (3) Landgraf noted that technical quality is vital — progrressive downloading (no dropouts) and ease of use. (4) Skipping songs, Rudiger said, is a “killer app.” Rewinding would be even more so.
Schalt concluded, “A mere simulcast won’t wont save you; invest in platforms and technology.” Rosin agreed, saying, “Simulcasts will have limited competitiveness in this new world.” He also observed that the market for radio is extremely larger than on-demand” and assured attendees, “I’ve researched this extensively, and consumers do think Pandora is ‘radio.'”