Teamrock leaves DAB for podcasting/online: the beginning of the end for linear?
With the news that TeamRock Radio are leaving DAB radio in June to concentrate on podcasting and online streaming, is this the beginning of the end of the linear radio platform for certain services?
TeamRock claim that they have a million registered users and are developing an app with 7digital which will enable them to provide listeners with either a live stream or able to podcast specific shows.
As TeamRock are a commercial free station, it makes no sense in the multi-platform age to keep a London DAB slot for national advertisers. On the other hand, online listening for linear stations have been in single or double figures.
Here's the boss, Billy Anderson, explaining how it all worked at Next Radio a few years ago. I was impressed he came - I had called the radio station a vanity project, which angered Billy a lot; and Matt Deegan said when it launched:
I imagine that a Metal/Harder edged station without strong name recognition but with decent marketing, is unlikely to be a massive ratings success
Of course, we never found out how it had done: they never joined RAJAR. Why should they - they weren't selling advertising, and £50,000 is an expensive bill for something that ultimately isn't very useful.
It did seem that running a radio station (particularly on the quite expensive national multiplex), and not even carrying any commercials on it, was an expensive piece of marketing for the magazines - a sector of the media which is suffering most in terms of the online revolution. Billy and his team came from a radio background, of course, so they knew the power of radio and its ability to help people feel connected with other fans. To 'belong'.
It seems to me that if you're going to run a radio station now, linear radio isn't always the brightest plan. If you can get the business model right, you should be producing great, near-live, atomiseable content, giving listeners a skip button and the companionship you expect from brilliant radio, and giving advertisers the opportunities from one-to-one contact with audiences. Spotify but with a personality. NPR One but with something to wake you up a bit. Radio 2 with a skip button. I've yet to make the business model work; but 7digital clearly have significant advantages here. It's a canny alliance to make, and if there's anyone who understands the business of radio, it's Simon Cole.
For TeamRock to pursue this course seems to make much more sense than pouring £3 or £4m a year away running a national DAB radio station. I wish them luck.
Linear radio is "real" radio as we know it, when we tune into a station and hear it being broadcast in real time, straight from the studio in the same instant as it is being broadcast from the studio. Up until now, this is how radio has always been. Podcasts are not linear radio, since you can access and download these at any time and listen when and where you like.
I would miss TeamRock on DAB. It has been a good audio companion in the car whenever I've been on road trips. My wife, being a Chinese goth, would especially miss it because TeamRock is bang-on her taste in music.
The thing I liked most about the station is that it covered the spectrum of rock music rater than focussing on one or two styles. Rock Radio/Real XS was Classic Rock, Planet Rock is anal, Kerrang is whatever it feels like being each month but leans towards modern rock.
However, having said all that, TeamRock never felt like a radio staion in the traditional sense. It never had a drivetime show of the kind that we're used to. It's breakfast show could have fitted into any daypart. Its specialist shows were slotted into any time of the day. So almost all of its programs did not comfortably fit into my daily routine. All of its shows felt like podcasts that I could have listened to at any time.
I buy the magazines (I always have) which have been around for a while longer than the radio station. I also like supporting a Scottish business that way. So I am even more pleased that the new TeamRock will be offering three strands that allows me to capture my mood. I'm going through a Prog Rock phase just now and so far this is the ONLY outlet that is scratching that itch.
Every company has to do what's right for its business. I would be surprised if this didn't result in a significant reduction of all its radio output. Outside traditional syndication to broadcast, the low level of internet listening will, I imagine, mean they'll be a couple of podcasts of material.
A streaming audio service will give them a brand presence and no doubt sold as another subscriber benefit, but it's unlikely to generate much audience for them.
TeamRock should be commended for their honesty. On their Soundcloud page, they've added their reasons and complaints from listeners during their breakfast show.
You wouldn't see this type of corporate honesty and respect for the listeners from the large groups.
Worth noting that from the outset TeamRock set out to establish itself as a worldwide business. The recent announcement, insight into number of registered users and planned new direction demonstrates that they've achieved this to a very impressive extent. I think the UK media industry should learn as much as it can from their approach.
I'd love them to be a Global business, but they haven't provided any evidence of their 'impressive' impact. 1m registered users is different from 'monthly actives' which is a much more common internet metric.
There is, sadly, little or nothing to learn form what they've done.
Their radio output will now be small and inconsequential.
We'll agree to differ on that and I guess time will tell! But looking at the Facebook comments and listening to some calls on air there's a fair bit from overseas. All the best.
I'm pleased they have some international listeners, though I'm not sure how they'll monetise them.
I imagine that their business doesn't 'need' radio - they're about mags and online. They need to pretend they've got a radio plan to save face, but the proof will be how much output they'll be. I imagine little or none.
This morning I was driving through very rural Lanarkshire. It's so rural that the roads are single track, miles from civilisation and with a few farmhouses, reservoirs, hills (lots of them), forests, rivers and sheep galore.
The DAB signal for TeamRock was rock solid all the time, the mobile phone signal was non-existent most of the time.
This decision reminds me of Radio Luxembourg back in the 90's, when they made the decision to come off medium wave and broadcast on satellite only, making predictions that satellite radio was the big future and audiences for it would eventually be huge. Sadly they never got to find that out because the closed long before the time listening levels for satellite radio listening even started becoming anywhere near noticeable. I was a bit more fortunate because Luxy was re-broadcast on an a local FM station in my area.
That's new to me, I live in Lanarkshire, what local FM station re-broadcast Luxy back in the 90's?, by the way, that old 208m (1440) is closing down at the end of 2015.
Q96 in Paisley re-broadcast Radio Luxembourg, in stereo, from its satellite feed at nights as a sustaining service and did so until Luxy closed. After that it was the hum-drum of Supergold.
People love linear radio & television because it still remains as a shared experience. I have Sky television with its many channels & internet radios with its 22,000 thousand plus channels. The former needs the (intelligent) linear tv service retransmitted on satellite to survive while the latter will only be appreciated by a minority of listeners!
Freeview & DAB (+) with their extended choice on linear services will remain very popular for a long time. Listening to the hullabuloo about BBC 3 leaving traditional television is a good example of what people want.
Not everyone appreciates a ten page menu when they dine out, preferring a shorter selection of food to simplify choice!
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