Sprint Nextel Corp and Pandora Media Inc., have teamed up to offer the personalized streaming radio service to its mobile phone users. And Pandora is likely not going to stop there. We figure Sprint is just the first of many mobile carriers. Pandora also announced this week an up-coming Wi-Fi music player. Uh-Oh! Faster than you can say "Here comes wireless Internet Radio", we've got a new contender.
In fact, Pandora founder and all-around nice guy Tim Westergren was quoted as saying "We knew that if we wanted to be radio with a capital 'R', we have to be everywhere, and not just on the Internet. We knew we had to make it mobile."
And so, with this announcement, the wireless Internet radio era has begun. I believe that in the future this watershed announcement will be known as the moment everything changed. You are witnessing history in the making.
For as Bridge Ratings has been projecting for at least three years, wireless Internet radio poses the greatest threat to terrestrial radio for just the reason Mr. Westergren stated - it had to be available everywhere.
And while our studies also show that about 25% of Americans are highly interested in some form of radio on their cell phones, the true flood will begin when portable Wi-Fi Internet Radios begin selling at Walmart and Target.
But what it comes down to for traditional radio is not to get spooked by all this technology. At the end of the day, it comes down to how good your product/content is. As radio consultant Walter Sabo has said, "every day every medium available to the consumer starts from scratch to win an audience."
HBO proves this content rule almost every week. Fox figured out a way to get 30+ million viewers to tune in for "American Idol" despite of all the competition. It's true.
The word "compelling" is thrown around a lot these days but it's becoming clear that regardless of the medium, whatever the content, it's got to grab the audience because it's a dog-fight out there. Every day - every tune-in - every moment has got to have elements of fascination to it.
And while terrestrial radio is bound to have some issues with wireless Internet radio, we're finding that given a choice between a wireless Pandora and an MP3 player, almost 50% of the digital player owners we researched think that Pandora can give them something their iPod can't: surprises and music discovery.
Welcome to the new frontier; it's only going to get more interesting!