More Confidence About Platforms
The big discussions at Radiodays Europe
Hello from Malmö, which is hosting this year’s Radiodays Europe conference. There’s around 1,200 people here discussing radio, audio and podcasts.
I hosted a session with Linda Palmgren, the Bauer Media Sweden CEO, Sibyl Veil, the CEO of Radio France and Cathinka Rondan, the Head of Radio at NRK. Each gave a short view on the sector and what their own companies have been doing - and then we all sat down for a chat. It was quite a big room, thanks to Ann Charles for the pictorial representation…
The main thing that I noticed from the session, and from many of the others I saw, was that there was much more confidence in radio groups’ digital strategies. Particularly around distribution and third party platforms.
Five years ago the talk was far more about maximising distribution in places like Apple Podcasts and Spotify - going to where the listeners are. Now it’s far more nuanced than that. All the speakers in my session talked up the importance of their own platforms for data, increasing loyalty but also (for public broadcasters) the importance of getting attribution from the audience for the broadcaster’s work. Cathinka from NRK talked about many people not realising the material they’re consuming on Spotify is coming from NRK.
I think it also suggested far more confidence in their own app performance and being able to build real value for their audiences.
It wasn’t particularly about ignoring third party spaces, just being more strategic about how they’re used in a distribution/marketing mix.
Talking to other broadcasters on the sidelines I could clearly feel that their experience around digital audio, the data they’ve collected and also the research that they’ve conducted means their much more comfortable in their plans with far less second-guessing than I’ve previously seen.
It also suggests a movement away from some of the wild west attitudes to podcasting and digital audio. For many established broadcasters there’s definitely a more measured, considered approach. It will be interesting to see if this translates into more success.
Apple Podcast Subscriptions
The previous day I was on a panel discussing the future of podcasting. We talked about subscription opportunities for publishers and I said that I thought it was all a real mess. Apple’s options have the potential to be pretty good, but there’s limited merchandising meaning it’s difficult to explain and make your deals look attractive plus the content management with them is a chunk of extra work for podcasters (as you have to publish your podcast normally and then add extra audio and metadata on Apple’s own platform).
Particularly though, with different options for Apple, Spotify and other third parties, it makes it incredibly difficult to explain to listeners how to use it. With every platform being pretty different, the payment issues and the work arounds some require, means that for many publishers it’s all too much hassle than it’s worth.
In the podcast sessions most of the publishers that discussed taking part in Apple’s subscription system said they did it because it gave their shows more promotion rather than any real focus on generating paying subscribers.
However, perhaps that will start to change as Apple announced yesterday that they will be working with some podcast content management systems (Acast, Omny, Buzzsprout etc) to build in the ability for them to control the audio for publishers subscriptions feeds. This is eminently sensible. These enterprise solutions were always the best place to build the piping to enable easy deployment of the different audio/release times etc that the subscription products were built on.
More importantly though, it means that potentially these systems can send the premium audio to other subscription platforms too, like Spotify etc. This will greatly enhance the likelihood of publishers launching a subscription offer - as the CMS will end up reducing the complexity and friction.
There are still lots of issues around subscription - particularly the communication to listeners - but at least this is one development that’s good for publishers.
It’s been really great talking to lots of people here at Radiodays who are Media Podcast listeners. As some of you know, I’m pretty busy with the day jobs, but I really like doing the podcast and the newsletter, so having people say they read it or listen, does massively help me keep motivated to do them each week. Me and producer Phoebe are here recording some bits and pieces for next week’s show too.
Speaking of which, the latest episode of the Media Podcast has a good focus on streaming services, particularly Disney+, Netflix and C4’s YouTube deal. I talked with Heat Magazine’s Boyd Hilton and media consultant and writer Kate Bulkley all about it. I also caught up with Arlie Adlington to discuss the Multitrack initiative. Listen and subscribe here.