At this year’s Dash Conference in Detroit, speakers and panelists asked what the future holds for how drivers consume entertainment, information and advertisements in a connected car, and what will radio look like in that context? Larry Rosin of Edison Research says 67 percent of audio in cars is AM/FM radio. But how quickly will that change? It’s a recurring theme: Radio’s place in the future. Are we doing enough to secure our spot in the devices that will be in use years from now?

In a recent survey by data consultant Mark Kassof & Co. of 506 “Gen Zs” (ages 13-20), the message was loud and clear that radio needs to think mobile in order to be where the next generations consume their entertainment. As 41% of those surveyed select a smartphone as their go-to device for music listening, Kassof concluded that over-the-air radio consumption will represent a smaller and smaller portion of listening for these young demos over time.

Whether it’s in smartphones or connected cars, we need to be taking steps now to ensure we have a fighting chance in that inevitable future, and we believe TagStation as a content hub for enhanced data delivery to these devices and the NextRadio solution for displaying that content today is making that task less of a daunting one.

With that in mind, we’re happy to report to you some terrific progress. In addition to the Dash Conference, a very eventful last week included an important launch and a fantastic milestone. More on that below.

By the Numbers

  • Over 1,030,000 app downloads
  • Over 10,580 FM radio stations tuned to from the app – over 3,300 a day
  • Over 1,430,000 hours of listening through NextRadio – up 20% from last month
  • A 4/5 Google Play Store user rating

NextRadio_SquareBroadcast Radio, Transformed.

Quietly on Thursday and publicly on Friday, the latest release of the NextRadio app hit the Google Play Store and over a million phones* as an update. If you’re not familiar with the new features yet, check out this quick video or visit the Google Play Store and NextRadioApp.com for screenshots and feature information.

Broadcasters, TagStation has been updated in order for you to take advantage of some of these new features as well. Though things like the Live Guide and dynamically-driven content cards need no action on your part, if you’d like to create custom content cards, here’s a great write-up on how to get that done. Of course, with all the added visibility in the new & improved NextRadio, it doesn’t hurt to make sure your TagStation basics are taken care of like song matches and great-looking schedules!

GPS_NRMeanwhile, downloads of the app passed *1 million just a few days before the release, and projections are looking great. With the current trend of growth, we expect to hit that second million much faster. And listening looks even better! When looking at the curve of listening vs. downloads (Brad Hill of RAIN did that heavy-lifting for us – THANKS!) a desirable pattern is beginning to emerge with the listening hours curve shooting up ahead of downloads. It’s exactly the growth we like to see.

And though we DO get excited to see that kind of evidence that the app is faring well in the marketplace considering modest availability and grassroots-ish support, our measure of success isn’t limited to numbers. There have really been some encouraging shows of support from the industry and beyond lately.

The reception at Dash was very positive as TagStation’s Paul Brenner talked “Future of Radio” on a panel with iBiquity’s Bob Struble. “We are proving that we can provide exactly what the consumer wants: local radio with interactive features,” Brenner said. “Every radio station uses the same calls to action. We just automate and visualize them safely on the dash.”

And of course, the NextRadio smartphone app is completely dependent on activated smartphone FM chips, and support continues in favor of this free and ubiquitous FM radio source. From a global show of solidarity to a letter to the FCC from United Methodist Communications and the NJBA, the voices favor of FM chip activation are growing louder. In a recent video testimonial, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate stressed the emergency information benefits of FM radio availability in smartphones. Add your voice to the chorus by visiting FreeRadioOnMyPhone.org and telling your wireless carrier that this is an important issue to you as well!

So while it’s easy to worry that things are moving too fast or into unknowns, we’re thinking. We’re making progress. We’re working together to solve problems and raise each other up. In his keynote at Dash, President of the CEA Gary Shapiro reminds us, “Radio does have a great future.”

Note4Moving Forward

NEW PHONE… The brand new Galaxy Note® 4 is the next major release in the flagship series from Samsung, and for Sprint customers, it comes preloaded with the NextRadio app. And as long as we’re talking about nice round numbers, that brings us to 30 supported devices – see the breakdown here if you’re in the market.

It was really great to connect with some of you at Dash, and we look forward to our visit to the beautiful state of Wisconsin for the WBA Broadcasters Clinic this week. As always, we’ll catch up with you here in a couple more weeks.

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