Friday, 9 November 2007

The Auto Stream

Circulating amongst the delegates at NAB Europe was Clive Dickens from Absolute Radio. As well as running a successful consultancy, his company owns 2 radio stations in Oxford... one being the new JACK FM, of which much has already been said and written. We started to discuss the one thing that had really stood out for me about JACK FM Oxford... and surprisingly it wasn't something that I'd heard on air.

When you visit (but not until you've finished reading this if you'd be so kind...) a pretty standard radio station homepage pops up... but then within about 2 seconds, something rather exciting happens. The live stream launches... automatically...!! I remember when I first came across this I thought... "That's a bit different". And the more I thought about it.... the more it made sense. Bloody good sense.

Every time I see research on the reasons why people go to a radio stations website... usually top of the list is the reason "I want to listen live / stream the radio station". The numbers vary from 50% anywhere up to 80%! So why not make it easy for them? Save people the hassle! What's the worst that could happen? They actually get to sample the station and stay listening to it for a while? That's kinda the idea with radio isn't it?!

There are some radio stations where it is painfully difficult to launch the live stream, and on a number of occasions I've just given up after form-filling for an eternity. Life's far too short to keep giving out my 'Mother's Maiden Name' and remember what kind of connection I've got. What is a 'T1' when it's at home anyway? There's a short pre-roll ad of about 8 seconds when the JACK stream 'auto-launches', but nothing too much to put me off.... and bang... I'm straight into music. ("Simple Minds - All The Things She Said" as it happens on this occasion!)

At NAB, Clive Dickens explained to me actually how difficult it has been to technically make this 'auto-stream' happen. I may have appeared to glaze over somewhat at that point, but got the gist of it! But I think it's worth the agro he and his team went through. It will fascinating to see if JACK in the UK has pioneered something that will catch on progressively over the next 12 months globally, or if others won't want to follow suit, fearing an audience backlash.

"Dear Sir... I visited your website, and was horrified that you played music to me... without asking my permission! How very dare you! What are you? Some kind of radio station?" etc etc...

Have a think about how much you could increase TSL to your station just by adopting this idea. Worth a second thought isn't it...

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