Media Industry and Consumers  

The Millennial Perspective on Broadcast Radio vs. Music Streaming Services

Broadcast radio continues to come under increasing pressure with the emergence of new platforms for audio media discovery and listening.  Many have launched their own digital apps.  But is that enough?

University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications researchers Sylvia Chan-Olmsted, Telecommunication professor and director of consumer media research, and doctoral student Rang Wang, along with Kyung-Ho Hwang from Kyungnam University, Republic of Korea, sought to better understand how millennials were accessing music and their gratification from broadcast radio, broadcast radio apps and music streaming services. The results, they believe, will help inform terrestrial radio stations on how to offer unique values through their digital apps, rather than simply duplicating the broadcast radio experience.

In a national survey of more than 1,100 18 – 36 year olds, the researchers measured usage of the three platforms and common motivators for their use: escapism, entertainment, information, pastime, and socialization. (Habit was also assessed, but only for broadcast radio and music streaming.) The survey shows that entertainment is the strongest motivator for all three audio platforms. The next motivator is pastime for radio and escapism (more active in nature) for streaming and radio apps.

The researchers also found that the millennials see music streaming services as distinct from radio and radio’s mobile apps. While broadcast radio and its apps are perceived as somewhat substitutable and complementary to each other, broadcast radio and streaming services are not seen as substitutable but somewhat complementary. In particular, the more an audience seeks entertainment and socialization from radio, and information from streaming, the more the two audio platforms are seen as complementary. On the other hand, the more an audience seeks escapism and socialization from radio, and information from streaming, the more the two platforms are seen as substitutable.

The researchers believe that this preference for music streaming is because that platform offers ways to foster individual creativity and communication building, due to a better music content selection and control of the listening experience versus broadcast radio.

It also revealed that transferring broadcast radio programming to online app is not enough. Millennials, by and large, do use broadcast radio, but look for the same levels of customization and interaction on radio apps that they achieve from streaming services.

The findings suggest that the radio industry re-evaluate how they present their radio stations digitally to continue to appeal to the millennial market and compete with streaming services. The researchers also suggest that the study is a good jumping off point for further exploration, including music usage of Generation Z and Baby Boomers and the impact of station format and app functionality.

The original research paper, “Substitutability and complementarity of broadcast radio and music streaming services: The millennial perspective,” appeared in Mobile Media & Communication, pages 1-20, 2019.

 This summary was written by Marie Morganelli, Ph.D.


Posted: September 20, 2019
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