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Cable Technology Feature Article

September 16, 2008

Is Satellite Radio Like Cable TV?

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

In February 2007 about 3.4 percent of radio listening was garnered by satellite radio. And though radio listening is lowest in the youngest age segments, one wonders whether SiriusXM's original story — "satellite radio will do for radio what cable TV did for television choice" — is wrong in at least one respect.
Cable TV did not face any other significant alternatives when it began its assault on the monopoly of the major broadcast networks. But the satellite radio analogy might instead be likened to a scenario where cable TV launched after Internet-delivered video already had begun to take hold in the market.
That seems to fit the current facts better than the cable TV analogy, as satellite radio has several other competitors for the music delivery portion of its business. Arbitron and Edison Media Research shows continued growth in usage and ownership of various forms of digital audio platforms, including online radio, iPod/MP3 players, and podcasting, for example. That study found  iPod and portable MP3 player ownership now is up to 37 percent of respondents.
The study also shows 13 percent of the U.S. population age 12 and older have listened to online radio in the past week; up from eleven percent in 2007.  On a weekly basis, online radio reaches more than 15 percent of 25- to 54-year olds.
Audio podcasting usage continues to increase, with 18 percent of respondents reporting they have, at some point, listened to an audio podcast; up from 13 percent in 2007.  About nine percent say they have listened to an audio podcast in the past month.
So one has a disquieting sense that some of the entertainment function once provided by radio now is supplied by other media, ranging from Internet-delivered radio, MP3 players or even non-music or non-news pursuits such as gaming, social networking and other diversions.
The point is that the "satellite radio will do for radio what cable TV did for television" analogy might not be quite apt.

INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year — is going on this week (September 16-18, 2008) in Los Angeles, California! The show features three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Be sure to check out TMCnet.com and blogs from Rich Tehrani, Greg Galitzine, and Tom Keating for news highlights from the show. See you there!

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Mae Kowalke