Digital Strategies for Broadcasters at NAB

We just returned from the NAB last week and while there we attended the NAB’s day long session, Digital Strategies for Broadcasters.  The panels were well prepared but sadly there were only 60 people in the room (92,414 attendees at NAB).  One of the better panels covered the connected car.  Panelists were from the Consumer Electronics Association, Connected Vehicle Trade Association and a consultant formerly with Lexus/Toyota/Scion.  One slide I wanted to highlight came from Michael Bergman from CEA.  This slide illustrates what is projected to occur through 2016 in the car.  Note Internet radio growth with over 80% in-car penetration by 2016.  Penetration is more than twice that of HD Radio.  As I have posted previously HD radio lacks full two-way interactivity, a few extra channels with no compelling advantage in content and/or audio quality cannot compete with Internet radio.  The Digital Strategies session opened with a chart showing current internet listening vs. terrestrial radio.  Obviously an emphasis on today rather than the future…

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We just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  The primary theme was Internet radio in the car.   One of our portfolio companies, Livio Radio, announced FMConnect which allows terrestrial radio stations the ability to now take advantage of two-way communication (read; digital) utilizing the cell phone connected to your car’s entertainment system.   Also Kudos to Fred and Paul Jacobs for inking a deal with Ford for their Ford Sync product.  Unfortunately the car ecosystem is fragmented and confusing to a degree that is frightening.  While developing an app for Ford is an attractive idea, keep in mind that this app will not work with all the other car companies’ entertainment systems. As currently stands a station would have to develop a different app for each car platform which is what Livio Connect is trying to eliminate.  Livio is integrating with all car companies and their suppliers.  Internet radio in the car can be achieved by many means as follows:

1)  physical cable

2) Blue tooth

3) Wi-Fi

Some systems just mirror the phone with navigation still done on the phone.  Others such as provided by Livio Connect  allow listeners to control access to streams from the cars control.  This makes controlling audio options much safer.  This is also true of Ford Sync’s product but it of course is one of many in the car ecosystem and I don’t think that Chrysler is going to allow the Ford platform into their cars.  Thus the need for a company like Livio which can work with all car companies because it has integrated into the chipsets of major suppliers of the in-car entertainment systems.  Radio companies should leave getting connected in the car to auto industry experts given the vast, confusing world it represents and should partner with a company like Livio to deal with integration.