It was really great to connect with many of you again this year at the 2015 NAB Show and update you on NextRadio progress – progress that has come about thanks to the participation of broadcasters all over the country and tireless efforts to bring so many moving parts together to create a strong and unified voice. Again this year, NextRadio was viewed as quite an important radio innovation. “NAB is pleased to support the NextRadio campaign, as this technology is widely supported by our members and strengthens the future of radio,” said NAB President Gordon Smith in his keynote address to kick off the show. Since then, things have been buzzing over here as the FM-enabled smartphone conversation has continued to expand into the consumer world, turning up the volume on that even more important voice for change.

We’ll take a closer look at some of that activity in this post. But first…

By the Numbers

  • Over 2,335,000 app downloads
  • Over 11,665 FM radio stations tuned to from the app
  • Over 4,385,000 hours of listening through NextRadio
  • A 4/5 Google Play Store user rating
  • Ranked 9th in Google Play top free music apps
  • 18 minute average listening session per station through NextRadio

Note the new numbers! NextRadio has broken into the top 10 free music apps for Google Play – not bad for an app available on a limited number of devices. And the average per station listening session length is something that’s been turning heads when talking to broadcasters. More on that below.

The Conversation Continues After NAB

Paul Brenner talks to people
Photo credit: NAB Labs
Englebrecht, Pai, and Matheny

Among NAB Show highlights were keynote mentions, several well-attended presentations, general great vibes, fruitful meetings, and new partnerships. FM access in smartphones as a lifeline in the event of emergencies was also a hot topic in the show’s sessions. FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel supported the concept of FM activation on handsets and applauded the role of local radio stations during emergencies. FEMA’s Damon Penn reiterated the agency’s support for FM-enabled cellphones, saying the phone you are holding could be an “extremely valuable” tool during a disaster.

Meanwhile, flight 2 of consumer campaign spots kicked off with a quite a bang. Downloads, listening, and returning users are surging because of the awareness the ads are generating, and we’re beginning to see conversations about activating FM in smartphones happening outside of our industry where opinions are genuine and passionate. With a huge boost from a widely-heard interview on NPR to editorials spanning the country and beyond – from Oregon to Tulsa to the UK, the word is definitely getting out.

Now for some good news on listening. As mentioned above, the average station listening session length in NextRadio now stands at 18 minutes. This continued rise in session length can be attributed to a healthy and expanding pool of returning users. It should also be noted that on weekdays that number is closer to 21 minutes, and that’s just for one station. Our metrics show that a person’s time spent in the NextRadio app usually consists of listening to more than one station – equaling a whole app session closer to 48 minutes.

Also helping longer session times is the savings a consumer experiences in both battery life and data usage. Jacobs Media’s popular TechSurvey11 notes that as smartphone ownership continues to rise, and radio continues to lead the pack in new music discovery, more than half of smartphone owners have limited data plans. But with only one in four people surveyed aware that they could listen to free radio with an FM receiver in their phones, we still have a lot of work to do to inform consumers of that option.

Elevating social media. Along with the on-air awareness campaign, NextRadio has started to focus on telling our story on social media. If you haven’t yet, check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You will begin to see more content based on information we’re gathering from our listeners: Which songs and shows are most people interacting with most, new album releases, artist features, and interviews with radio personalities. As NextRadio App takes on it’s radio-centric voice, stay connected with TagStation news here.

Learn more. With this flurry of activity – awareness increasing, app usage on the rise, consumers being engaged on social media, and Allstate’s national beta test of NextRadio’s advertising platform (as you may have seen reported over the past weeks) – now would be a truly great time to take advantage of TagStation. Contact Libby and find out how easy it is to get your stations up, running, and looking great in NextRadio.

Moving Forward

Continued progress with phones… As we announced last month, the much-anticipated HTC One M9 has arrived preloaded with the NextRadio app through Sprint. Some subsequent good news: after testing and watching listening hours accumulate on these new devices, we’ve found that you may download and install NextRadio from the Google Play Store onto the M9 from any carrierexcept Verizon. Visit our growing list of supported devices to see the full line-up of phones that support NextRadio, and use the breakdown by carrier to see those available from your carrier.

Stay tuned for more announcements next month, and a big THANK YOU again for helping us continue the conversation and further the progress of this very important effort. So long!