Why the radio has to bite into the sour apple

Public broadcasters and not a few media politicians in Germany agree: The future of radio is a standard called DAB +. He is to replace FM in the medium term and – so it was formerly in advertising – radio in CD quality.

And with that we switch to the media reality 2019.

In Germany, there are nearly 60 million smartphones. Virtually every household uses the network, and despite all the prophecies of doom, there are over 30 million broadband connections. With a number of apps, thousands of programs can be streamed effortlessly and for free. In addition, millions of mobile phones have a podcast app.

By contrast, DAB coverage in Germany is far from complete. In my place of residence predicts DAB 55 programs for the mobile reception, 20 for the indoor reception. Maybe I would have found that in the 80s impressive. Today? Shrugs, what the hell. It’s like someone claiming that the future of television is the cable connection.

And now we turn into the media reality of the near future.

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The good, old radio has to make for the user an increasingly less lucrative offer

The American business news portal Bloomberg writes Apple’s management team should have started contacting media companies to buy exclusive podcasts. That would be a complete reorientation of Apple’s strategy. Currently, Apple is just a platform for podcasts – and is doing neutral.

If the tech group secures exclusive rights, Apple would suddenly become a content provider and the “radio station”. Just as Spotify, Deezer or Audible have been practicing for quite some time: Content as a customer acquisition tool. Exclusive content to stand out from others. Away with the neutral arbitrariness, forth with the content profile!

At first glance, this may sound a little bit disturbing for radio stations, after all, podcasts are not a radio. On closer inspection, both the broadcasters and marketers and the advertising industry should be thinking about an imminent paradigm shift.

There are many reasons for this: The good, old radio has to make an increasingly less lucrative offer for the user. In the age of mobile and individual-personalized uses, a linear, rigid program is always at a disadvantage, unless you let it go by the wayside.

With the once praised “CD quality” of DAB + and the supposed variety no one can lure behind the smartphone. The net can do that and even more: anyone who seriously wants to hear a free-jazz specialist niche channel from Finland has the chance to do so on the internet. Since the promise of 50, 100 or 150 channels via DAB looks rather homebuilt.

Also interesting: radio? Nobody needs anymore!

The podcast industry has become more professional

There is also a development that has been painfully felt by daily newspapers for years: The idea of ​​covering as many as possible with one product is antiquated, a remnant of analogue days. With a few clicks, today everyone can effortlessly put together their own individual and always available program. If you want news, you will be more likely to do it with a Smartspeaker than with a radio broadcasting news on the hour.

The podcast industry, on the other hand, has become enormously professional in recent years. There probably is not a single topic that does not have an excellent podcast. Podcasts are also freed from set-ups. With not a few radio stations you would be so excited about the exuberant creativity that can be found on good podcasts.

The story repeats itself

All this has been recognized by the digital strategists of the big platforms – apparently including Apple. For many broadcasters, however, this is the beginning of a slow downward spiral, the course of which can be predicted: First, one negates the new digital competition in order to catch the power abuse of large corporations years later.

It would still be possible – even – to react to this foreseeable paradigm shift. I dare not hope that will happen.

History repeats itself after all. And especially the history of the digitization of media is apparently a story full of repetitions.

Also interesting: Audio boom: How traditional publishers benefit from it

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