On Aug. 3, NAB will host a webcast on the connected car and what it means for broadcasting. The discussion will be led by David Layer, senior director, Advanced Engineering, NAB. In this week’s Broadcast Blog, David gives us a preview of what we can expect in the upcoming webcast.

A lot of radio listening is done in automobiles. Survey after survey confirms the importance of car listening to the radio industry.

Here are two recent examples:

Jacobs TechSurvey 12 (May 2016) finds that:

  • More than 9 out of 10 listen to AM/FM radio in a car during an average weekday
  • Half say all or most of the AM/FM radio listening takes place while in a car
  • Radio’s share of in-car listening on a typical weekday is 66%

Jacobs survey

The Infinite Dial 2016 (March 2016, Edison Research and Triton Digital) finds that:

  • 84% of persons 12 and older listen to AM/FM radio in the car
  • 54% of these persons rank AM/FM radio as the audio source they use “most” or “all” of the time

Infinite dial

Most broadcasters recognize that today’s “connected car” paradigm is altering consumers’ listening habits in the car and providing them with an expanding array of audio options. The challenge for the radio broadcasting industry is to leverage the power of the connected car to maintain and grow its dominant position in automotive listening.

Key to the growth of connected car platforms in the U.S. is the nearly universal availability of broadband internet connectivity, which is typically concentrated along roadways, particularly heavily-traveled routes, ideal for in-car listening. Consumers use their smartphones and in some cases, broadband data plans tied to their cars, to deliver an array of services to the automobile, including streaming audio services that directly compete with free over-the-air AM and FM radio services.

Many broadcasters are already using this broadband connectivity to deliver streaming audio versions of their over-the-air signals to listeners. This is one important way for radio to leverage the power of the connected car to retain listeners. A streaming audio version of a broadcast signal can have enhancements over analog radio signals, such as album art and advertiser graphics and interactivity (taking advantage of the two-way nature of the internet), as well as support for on-demand content such as recorded versions of a station’s morning show. These enhancements are attractive to listeners and help broadcasters compete with “pure play” streaming services that provide similar features.

Just recently, JacApps, a prominent developer of streaming audio apps for radio broadcasters, announced they are now supporting two of the most important connected car platforms, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The below demonstration shows how a radio broadcaster’s station app can work in the Android Auto environment. In this demo the app includes both the live over-the-air simulcast stream as well as the availability of on-demand content.

Currently under development are connected car apps that will utilize a hybrid radio approach, taking advantage of the in-car AM/FM radio receiver for audio delivery and the broadband internet channel for enhanced content, similar to the way that the well-known NextRadio app supports hybrid radio in smartphones using the FM chip. Using a hybrid radio approach to reach listeners has advantages over the streaming audio approach, including greatly reduced data usage for listeners and greatly reduced audio delivery costs for broadcasters.

For an in-depth look into the connected car and what it means for broadcasters, NAB will be hosting a webcast from 3-4PM EDT on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, called “Insights into the Connected Car.” This webcast will provide a glimpse into radio’s future within the connected dash, exploring how different generational and demographic groups view radio and how it is used.

This discussion will be led by the author (David Layer, senior director, Advanced Engineering, NAB). Joining him on this webcast will be Andrew Hare, senior director, Digital Research and Strategy with Magid Associates and Fred Jacobs of Jacobs Media, who will discuss the changing consumer attitudes in this space and the opportunities and threats this brings for radio. Rounding out this panel will be Scott Burnell, global lead, Business Development and Partner Management, Ford Developer Program, who will provide the automaker’s perspective on radio’s place in the dash.