Archive for Radio

Brexit Dramedy Streaming Daily

picture with Brexit signpostOne of the benefits of being a consultant and working primarily at home is being able to have some entertainment on in the background. And the past few weeks have been full of drama – and farce – as I’ve followed Brexit coverage from the UK.

Let me step back a second. All of my family (except my brother) are English, so I’ve always been quite an Anglophile and have followed British politics and culture. There was the shock of the Brexit win in a UK referendum in 2016 and the ill-timed general election that cost Theresa May her majority. This has only been exceeded by the current rush to a Brexit deadline without an agreement being approved by Parliament.

The weeks prior to the original “Brexit Day,” this past Friday March 29th, have been filled with fascinating content from the floor of Parliament and political intrigue worthy of a BBC/PBS co-production. Whether a drama or farce is another question altogether.

I bring this up in this column for a number of reasons – the content, the featured players, and the role our contemporary streaming media world played in my ability to watch and listen to each day’s developments.

The Media

Let’s discuss the latter part first. While some Americans have discovered the weekly Prime Minister’s Question time on C-SPAN, broader live coverage of events requires going a little deeper on media’s bench. I found out that I could get a few good sources using a combination of Roku apps and YouTube. This was across a number of different devices – my Roku TV, the Roku box attached to another TV, the YouTube portal that is in my FiOS program guide, and YouTube apps on my phone, tablet, and computer. I was, admittedly, getting a little obsessive about watching!

Sky News streams its live broadcast on YouTube (Brexit or no Brexit) so that is a reliable source of coverage with analysis. Spottier coverage comes from ITV News (mostly they just have a feed from Parliament, sometimes they have a studio feed with analysts) or Channel 4. BBC News, surprisingly, does not stream live video coverage outside the UK (at least that I could *legally* access). But it does have a helpful live blog/Twitter feed on its website.

I even scouted around audio sources like the TuneIn and apps. Here I found some free live streams from BBC4, BBC5, and independent radio stations in the UK. Unfortunately, the latter seem to lean towards US-style talk radio so I mostly skipped those.

The bottom line is that I’ve been able to stitch together a pretty decent coverage of events as they’ve transpired across the Atlantic.

The Content

The content I find quite entertaining to watch. After a couple of weeks, I’m now familiar with many of the idiosyncrasies of Parliament. My favorite is when insults are hurled at “the honourable gentleman” or “my right honourable friend,” because using a member’s name is a no-no.

John BercowThe big winner, in my eyes, is the Speaker, John Bercow. Mr. Bercow could easily have a future after all this is over. He could be the UK equivalent of Judge Wapner or Judge Judy. His interjections of “Ooor-dah!” have created a new catch phrase in my house. Other popular Bercow-isms being learned by new viewers are “Division!” (members move to voting lobbies), “Lock!” (the lobbies are locked to record final votes) and “Unlock!” (the votes have been presented and the lobbies can be unlocked). All his expressions end in an exclamation point, by the way.

Aside from Mr. Bercow, we have the Prime Minister, Mrs. May, who continues to try over and over to get her agreement approved despite losing votes each time (three and counting). Most PMs would have been forced to resign by now, but she is like a relentless zombie. Across from her is Jeremy Corbin, leader of the opposition Labour Party. He throws a lot of insults and implements blocking tactics but without really doing much to resolve this critical national issue.

Other characters are the leaders of the smaller parties like the SNP (Scottish National Party) and the DUC (Democratic Unionist Party). The latter enabled May and the Conservatives to form a government after the 2017 election, but they have held May’s Brexit agreement hostage over the way it treats Northern Ireland.

Michael FabricantAnother favorite of mine is member Michael Fabricant, who appears to sport an obvious and somewhat ridiculous Trump-like toupee. Or else, he just has had a very long run of bad hair days.

When Will It End?

At the moment, the way forward for the UK is quite unclear. There could be a last minute agreement; a crash out of the EU with no deal; a lengthy extension; or there could be a reversal of Brexit altogether. There is certain to be a general election before long. And depending on the final terms of a Brexit, the UK itself could be threatened by a vote for Scottish independence to allow it to rejoin the EU.

This “series” will be continuing for quite a long time, no matter what happens. I just hope my internet doesn’t give out in the middle of an important vote.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Drake vs The Beatles: Let It Be

Billboard Hot 100 logoAs a (young) Boomer, I was a little dismayed last week. I saw that Billboard declared that Drake had taken away a record from The Beatles – most songs in the Hot 100’s Top 10 in a given week. Drake’s seven songs had beaten The Beatles’ five songs. This record had stood for 54 years, since 1964.

I don’t have anything in particular against Drake. I know little about him other than he’s Canadian and seems to be at a lot of NBA games. But as a researcher, I was curious how he had broken such a long-standing record, especially against my generation’s touchstone music group.

We Can Work It Out

Doing a little digging around on the internet, it quickly seemed apparent that this record breaking is about as meaningful as saying Drake’s seven apples breaks The Beatles’ record of five oranges. As clickbait, it’s great; as a real comparison, it leaves something to be desired.

Although Billboard does not publish any information, numerous online sources discuss how the calculation of Billboard’s Hot 100 has changed many times over the years. These changes reflect both changes in how people listen to music, and what metric the industry was looking for in a particular era (eg, popularity or profitability?). In 1964, it seems that sales of singles and radio airplay accounted for much of the calculation of the Hot 100, with more weight towards sales. In contrast, today’s calculations are mostly based on radio airplay, streaming requests across all types of sources including YouTube, and digital sales.

If one were a bitter Boomer, one could argue that five songs which were ranked in the Hot 100 to a great extent because people actually had to pay for the records is a superior achievement than seven songs that are mostly ranked because of listening through free radio or free/subscription-based streaming audio.

Or is total reach the best measure? The Beatles sold 25 million records in 1964. If one considers the 10-19 age range their target market, then that means that about there was one Beatles record sold per 1.4 members of the 35 million youngsters in that cohort in 1964.  I could not find similar data available for Drake; but with a 10-19 population of about 42 million in 2018, he’d have sell 30 million song or album downloads to proportionately equal The Beatles’ 1964 sales. But we’ll never really know which is better than the other due to the changes in how people get music today – there is little need to buy music due to all-you-can-listen subscription streaming.

Come Together

Are the Yankees of 2018 better than the Yankees of 1964? While both played baseball, they played two very different types of ball game and need to be considered in the context of the differences between eras. The bottom line is that comparing Hot 100 lists of these different eras is no more meaningful than comparing baseball’s hitters and pitchers of today versus 1964.

*** Jan 2019 update: just to emphasize the difference above, someone named “A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie” hit number one on the Hot 100 by selling only 823 copies – but had 83 million streams *** 

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Scenes from the 2018 CIMM Summit

CIMM logoThe following are some quick notes and comments I jotted down from CIMM’s Cross-Platform Media Measurement & Data Summit (CIMM = Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement). The CIMM Summit was held February 1st at the Time Warner Center in New York City, and was well attended by the movers and shakers of the media research world.

Presentations and videos of some or all of the presentations should be available soon on CIMM’s website,

Notes and Comments

Opening with Jane Clarke, CEO of CIMM
Jane reviewed CIMM’s manifesto and progress made in the past year. [I think how actual much progress will depend on one’s viewpoint (buyer, seller, vendor, or MRC (Media Ratings Council)]

Fireside Chat with Rishad Tobaccowala, Publicis
– he believes there will be a 20-30% reduction in impression-based advertising in the next few years
– “data connecting to data” is the next level of connectivity
– advertising has been in the segmentation business (breaking up large audiences); it’s now entering the aggregation business (collecting smaller, fragmented audiences to create reach)

Buyers and Sellers Speak Out (panel)
– highly entertaining panel!
– Cost per rating point (getting a program in front of a viewer) for ad-supported content is skyrocketing (Joe Marchese, FOX)
– Data about viewers of an ad impression are quickly becoming almost more valuable than the impact of the impression itself (Lou Paskalis, Bank of America)
– You cannot create the same reach of a Super Bowl ad with digital, even if you had a year [assuming full viewing of ad] (Marchese)
– We are now being forced to create valuable, engaging marketing content (Paskalis)

CIMM Attribution Provider Comparison Study (panel)
– Attribution models are like Christmas trees; you can turn them to look good and hide the bare spots (Newcombe Clark, AIG)

Disney-ABC Multiplatform TV Attribution, Phase 2
– There are three main drivers to multiplatform ROI: Audience size, consumer commitment to content, and consumer perception of quality (Cindy Davis, Disney/ABC). [this was highly quantitative but very reminiscent of survey-based work we did at Knowledge Networks in early/mid 2000s]
– “Smarts”, “edge”, and “relatability” are the three of the eight Magid Emotional DNA attributes that are best indicators of multiplatform ROI
– Report supposedly available at

Creating a Data Relationship with TV Viewers (Channel 4, UK)
– An audience analysis that was interesting if not particularly groundbreaking
– Did show some very cool personalized ads served on digital streaming
– Trying to sell on “ABC”: Audience demos, Behavioral info, Content/Context (building ads or pods related to the content being viewed)

Coffee Break

Industry Associations Speak Out (panel)
– “Muscle memory” [mentioned several times earlier in the day as a reason why various stakeholders don’t adopt new methods] is a good thing, because we need to consider both legacy standards and all viewers [eg, measurement needs to include all viewers, even those still watching VCRs, not just who consumes digital content] (George Ivie, Media Ratings Council)
– We as an industry need “TED Talks” to discuss marketing successes, not just continual talk about the challenges we are facing. (Bob Liodice, ANA)
– We eventually will need MRC audit and accreditation of sales or brand lift providers. If we are validating the data going in, then the loop should be closed by accrediting the lift calculations (Ivie)

Who’s Getting It Right? (panel)
– We need progress not perfection (Kate Sirkin, Publicis)
– Gaps that need to be filled:
— Complete multiplatform system, both pipes and data (Brian Hughes, MAGNA)
— Vendors need to take the time to understand our business to know what the business questions are (Lisa Heimann, NBC)
— Measuring attention or engagement, Magid’s Emotional DNA doesn’t scale. (Howard Shimmel, Turner)
— Be prepared to validate your methods (Daniel Slotwiner, Facebook)
— Transparency and validation. Measurement is now a team sport (Elissa Lee, Google)

Programmatic TV (panel)
– It still takes a long time to evaluate a campaign, up to six months (Dan Aversano, Turner)
– We could use a quick read on campaigns using proxy data (Greg Pharo, Coca-Cola)
– If you make one [national] ad addressable, then the whole program can’t be C3 rated by Nielsen’s rules (Aversano)
– There are too many layers, each with their hand out for a piece of the pie; this can force us to do what we CAN rather than what we would LIKE (Mike Bologna, One2One Media)
– Cycle times are becoming more and more compressed between pitch, sale, and execution (Aversano)

Is the TV Industry Ready for Ad Ratings?
– Results of 27 interviews with industry leaders by Artie Bulgrin
– In 1987, the PeopleMeter came on; 2009 C3 ratings; 2017 separate measures of content and of ads
– Having a standard cross-platform currency is seen as important but NOT critical
– Having an accurate measure of net reach and duplication IS seen as critical but doesn’t have to be “currency quality”

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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New car tech outracing AM/FM

As a recent buyer of a new car, I finally got a first-hand look at the brave new world of car audio. My previous car was nine years old and had no Bluetooth, satellite radio, USB port, or any of the niceties of today’s cars. My choices were strictly AM, FM, or CD with a digital display that only showed a station frequency or track number. In contrast, my new car has options that include satellite radio, Bluetooth, a wired connection that lets me use Apple CarPlay with my phone, a touchscreen display – and of course AM and FM.

car media display screen

Find the AM/FM tuner!

This new and potentially confusing cornucopia of in-car media can concern not only new car buyers but the radio industry as well. How do new owners “find” their favorite broadcast radio stations? How are they programmed into favorites? How do you switch between radio and media sources? All of these actions, fairly simple up until a few years ago, can now be much harder to accomplish. While my new car fortunately has an easy interface, there are certainly many cars I’ve rented that have been completely non-intuitive and hard to use.

NAB logo

Consider just the display. The NAB recently released a report about how terrestrial radio broadcasters compare with the newer audio options per their appearance on new car displays. As might be expected, the terrestrial stations – with many different ownership groups and local managers – were wildly divergent in how station and song information are presented to the driver. In comparison, the audio options with a single source – SiriusXM or apps on a connected phone – typically had very standard, user friendly displays. In the constant battle for ears, even something relatively unrelated to the listening experience – the display UX – could tip the scale towards one source.

A similar situation on the pay TV side – the roll out of video-on-demand in the 2000s – is informative. In that case, every regional pay TV service seemed to have a different branding and interface for their VOD service. Going across the country, there was no standard way for consumers to learn about, or learn to use, VOD. Enter Netflix with its easy user interface and the streaming vs VOD battle was half-won from the start.

Another aspect the NAB will be exploring is how new car buyers are educated by the car dealers on delivery of their new cars. When I got my new car, my salesman specifically did tell me how to find and program AM and FM stations, but that is not always the case.

Radio’s look for due respect isn’t going to get easier

In today’s digital world, broadcast radio does have a constant battle for relevance despite its high usage (90% of Americans listen to radio each week) and beneficial use close to purchase decision (listening while driving to the store). But with much of its listening in the car, radio has a vested interest in making sure that something as simple as finding, tuning, and storing favorite broadcast stations doesn’t get lost in the technology of new cars. With the advent of self-driving cars soon upon us, and car ownership projected to decline overall, this will open up new competition and opportunities for listener’s ears and eyes.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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