Survey: Pandora is no threat to radio

Pandora whateverIt is perhaps no surprise that when Inside Radio surveys its readers, 82 percent of whom are radio veterans with at least 15 years in the business, the results are going to be pretty darn pro-radio. Still, the most eyebrow-raising point of the magazine’s year-end reader survey for 2013 might be filed in the Denial folder. According to Inside Radio’s summary report, two-thirds of respondents believe that Pandora and other Internet radio outlets “pose no real threat” to radio listening. (Methodology and survey wording were not disclosed.)

It’s not necessarily doomsaying to recognize threats. Pandora by itself certainly wants to be recognized as a threat, and constantly engages in threatening rhetoric. Company executives repeatedly express an intent to “disrupt,” “redefine,” and “replace” radio. That invasive language is substantiated by an aggressive build-out of a local ad-sales network, a gigantic presence in car dashboards where radio has been severely marginalized, a user base of active listeners that equals nearly 25% of the (2012) U.S. population, and a claimed 8.6% share of total U.S. radio listening. That last number is sometimes disputed, but cut it in half, and it’s still an important nationwide share.

Regardless of radio’s inherent advantages and future destiny, complacency might not be a productive attitude toward Pandora and interactive music streaming in 2014.

On another survey point, the viability of HD Radio, the response was reportedly mixed. Thirteen percent of respondents think the platform has reached a tipping point for future growth. Another seven percent think it will in 2014. But sentiment isn’t rousing — 35% think HD will never reach that tipping point.

Brad Hill