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The future of digital radio apps

radioplayer-screenshot (3) cgouldIncreasingly major broadcasters are launching apps for their stations. Apps are the next step in the evolution of radio and provide stations with access to mobile platforms, offering new ways to listen on increasingly popular devices. Looking to the future, radio apps can also take advantage of hybrid radio. In the commercial sector, smartphone apps allow stations to innovate and experiment with new business models, from synchronised visual and interactive advertising to targeted instream audio advertising for mobile and tablet devices. The app revolution is now becoming a revolution in radio which all stations need to take advantage of.

Challenges to overcome

Since WorldDMB member, All In Media (AIM) launched its first app over three years ago the industry has witnessed the growth of radio listening on smartphones. For a number of AIM’s clients, smartphones are starting to eclipse desktop listening especially on the move. however, while listening on mobile and tablet devices has become commonplace there are a number of challenges to overcome. Listening to IP-delivered audio streams on a 3G connection for example increases IP traffic on the mobile networks, can consume large amounts of data and incurs streaming costs and complexity for the broadcaster.

Combining broadcast and IP

Looking to the future, utilising a combination of broadcast and IP delivery can help overcome these bandwidth, network capacity and cost issues. “hybrid” radio apps are currently being developed using the DAB family of standards and FM broadcast  channels (where available) for high-bandwidth live audio streams. hybrid radio allows basic visual services to be pushed out over broadcast networks, with the pull of the IP-connection adding a richer multimedia experience. The hybrid model gives mobile phone and app users access to radio and value-added data services without significant additional costs, and offers the mobile sector a valuable competitive advantage where every USP service counts.

Expectations for the future

Over the coming months we will also see a rise in Connected Apps, with radio station smartphone apps allowing the consumer to control and push audio and multimedia content to other devices in the home and in-car. It would then be possible for listeners to use their phone to switch from live radio to on-demand content delivered over 3G and Wi-Fi networks. The UK industry is also using the future growth of apps to promote itself, with an industry-wide Radioplayer app launching this autumn unifying all radio content into an easily accessible format. Other countries seeing the benefits of this solution are looking to follow suit.

The future for digital radio apps is bright with many stations seeing the benefit of having their digital stations available in mobile handsets. Apps solve some of today’s problems and offer listeners solutions to their current and future needs. For broadcasters, having a digital radio app can provide new opportunities to compete in the mobile sector and create revenues whilst keeping listeners loyal.

For more information about the future of visual radio and apps contact the WorldDMB Project Office.

Chris Gould
CEO, All In Media (AIM)

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