WSJ Says Real Threat To Broadcasters Is Internet Radio

From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal: "With all the talk about satellite radio services Sirius and XM, it’s easy to forget a much bigger competitor to regular radio: the Internet.

"While just 3.4 million Americans subscribe to satellite radio, about 19 million listen to Internet radio each week, according to research firms Arbitron Inc. and Edison Media Research. That’s still tiny compared with the 277 million who listen to regular radio each week, but the number of Internet listeners has grown fast. Just three years ago, only 11 million listened to Internet radio each week.

"That growth has caught the attention of the big radio broadcasting companies, both for the threat it implies and the promise it offers…

"Perhaps the clearest signal yet of how serious broadcast companies are getting about Internet radio came in the middle of last month. Clear Channel Communications Inc. — the nation’s biggest radio broadcaster, with 1,200 stations — hired Evan Harrison [pictured right] away from his position as general manager of the Internet’s top-ranked AOL Radio Network, to lead Clear Channel’s online radio efforts.

"The real boom in Internet radio should unfold over the next few years with the development of technology that would allow Internet users to travel around large areas and keep their connections, much like cellphone users can. Various companies are working on different versions of such technology. Widespread mobile Internet access eventually could even allow consumers to get online right from their moving cars. Internet radio receivers could wind up on the dashboard right alongside regular radio tuners, much as satellite radio receivers are becoming standard in-car options today."

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