One of the key differentiators of streaming music and online radio is relatively low “spot load” — the amount of commercial time in a hour — compared to broadcast radio. A terrestrial station in Seattle is created broadcast buzz today with an announcement that it will dramatically reduce its commercial load, approaching the level of Internet radio.
Entercom station KNDD (“The End”) informed its listeners that it was cutting its commercial load in half, responding to a listener survey conducted last year. The announcement took the form of a pledge: “The 2 Minute Promise.”
“You also told us that there are too many commercials on the radio, and the commercial breaks take too long,” Program Director Garett Michaels wrote on the station website. “We heard you, and we’re going to do something about it. Starting now, we will take half of our commercials off the air, and we’ll never play more than 2 minutes of commercials at a time.”
KNDD makes an innovation claim, saying it is the first radio station in the country to reduce ads so drastically and publicly.
How does the new commercial load stack up against Pandora, the market-leading Internet radio outlet? According to Radio Ink, KNDD’s new hourly load will be six minutes (half of the previous 12-minute loads, which was presented in two six-minute blocks per hour). Recently, investment firm Canaccord Genuity measured Pandora’s spot load in May at 2.5 minutes, down from three minutes/hour in April. In our anecdotal experience, Pandora’s ad load might vary with user behavior; we have noticed, for example, that ads are triggered by song skips.
Whether KNDD’s new ad schedule exactly matches Pandora or any other online-radio spot load, the station is pitching the daring experiment as a new standard for broadcast radio: “The 2 Minute Promise is a bold, unconventional and groundbreaking way to present radio and The End will be the first station in the country to do this.”