In a pioneering move European commercial radio broadcaster, Bauer Media Audio is reinventing radio for music-lovers. UK Radio stations Scala Radio, Jazz FM, Planet Rock and Kerrang! Radio are enriching and extending the live radio experience by launching premium subscription online radio services for £3.99 a month.
Once signed up, listeners are in a 24/7 ‘no ad-breaks’, uninterrupted listening environment offering greater choice, control and flexibility, allowing listeners to skip up to 6 tracks per hour via Alexa, app and web listening, even on live radio.
Users also get access to an additional 20 exclusive online spin-off radio stations per brand, plus more than 30 on-demand shows per brand, featuring exclusive documentaries, artist interview content and special programming.
These premium offers are a great way to cater to music super fans by offering them a unique and uninterrupted listening experience with even more choice and control. Listeners will hear more music in place of the radio ad breaks.
Bauer is offering a free 7-day trial and promoting their premium services across Bauer networks through radio ads and live reads on-air as well as social media.
New technology developed jointly by Bauer and broadcast software company RCS enables real time song-skipping. As soon as the listener chooses to skip a song, they hear a new track. Once that track is coming to an end, they then continue in the live radio stream from the beginning of the latest song that is being played out on air but as they do so, they remain at a short buffer time behind the live stream which ensures the live radio experience remains seamless. Also - at any point, listeners can return to the main live stream on the app.
This feature works on web, smart phone and now also on Amazon Alexa devices as Bauer Media Audio are the first radio group to offer live skip on Alexa.
egta asked Richard Dawkins, Chief Operating Officer for Audio at Bauer Media for more details about the new offer.
egta: How has the launch of the new offer gone?
Richard Dawkins: We are really pleased with how the launch has gone. It has received lots of interest and we are seeing a growing user base. Since launch 85% of users starting the free trial have continued to purchase and remain premium subscribers.
egta: Are you planning to add any other perks and services to the subscribtion?
RD: We will continue to add exclusive content to the premium subscription services for our dedicated subscribers.
On Jazz FM premium for example, we are due to launch a great new summer channel featuring one of Jazz FM’s true icons of broadcasting that sees him at the helm and in control. Plus the station’s 10 part documentary series – “Definitive History of Jazz In Britain with Clive Myrie” - is also now available as a box set on the premium service as a new addition – the only place that listeners can access all ten episodes together.
egta: Are you planning a roll-out of a similar offer on other markets than the UK?
RD: If it’s as successful as we think, and we see opportunities internationally to super-serve music super fans, we will.
egta: Based on your research and strategic objectives behind the launch, do you find listening to ad-supported radio and to uninterrupted music streams complementary?
RD:We still love advertising – it’s a key part of commercial radio, which is loved by millions and millions of listeners. This premium service is not for everyone, it’s for a particular group of listeners.
There are some very select commercial sponsorship opportunities in these services as well. Bauer Media Audio will continue to offer advertisers 20 million listeners weekly in the UK.
Of course, we are innovating in our advertising services too, meeting the needs of advertisers who want more sophisticated and data-led advertising solutions to target consumers further.
Bauer is offering commercial partners the opportunity to target digital audio listeners at exceptional scale powered by News UK & Bauer Media’s 1st party data through Octave Audio and brand-led digital audio advertising solutions using Bauer Media Instream.
Earlier this year we launched a new digital audio advertising network across the Nordics, Bauer Audiostream, which provides advertisers with a transparent and brand safe environment combined with the expertise of leading audio publishers who offer data-led digital audio advertising at scale.
egta: Does the future of premium audio lie in providing listeners with both types of experience?
RD: There is room for all. Radio has been innovative to make sure it’s present in the places and spaces where audiences are, from FM to DAB, DAB+ to IP online and smart speakers.
Our priority is to ensure our services are easily accessible and we can delight our existing and new audiences in new ways. Digital distribution in all its forms has enabled our portfolio to continue to grow. Developing new audio services and experiences and working closely with music partners will further accelerate that growth.
We believe there is a value in giving the audience the choice to listen for free or ad-free at the premium services.
egta: Is there any worry that shifting listeners to subscription will erode your audiences on ad-supported stations and streams?
RD: No worry there at all. The innovation is backed by insight from our listeners. This is very much complementary to the radio experience known and loved by our audiences. Our insight identified a group of music super fans, passionate about their favourite radio brands and the broadcast radio offering, and who are interested in further exploring their music passion.
The enhancement of added listener choice and control through the Premium services is a compelling digital audio proposition that will further enrich these listeners’ radio relationships and experience.
Live broadcast radio is a great world to be in, and we are excited about extending this and further exploring the wider, bigger universe of audio. For broadcast radio advertising we offer a scaled audience of 57 million across Europe.
Our Instream/Octave offering in the UK and Bauer Audiostream in the Nordics give brands and advertisers the opportunity to target premium, engaged audio audiences powered by first-party data at exceptional scale in a transparent and brand safe environment. Brands value radio’s flexibility, speed, creativity and simple effectiveness.
egta: What was the reaction of the market? Any reaction from your clients/buyers you could mention?
RD: Following launch, we’ve had some really positive feedback across the board. We value the importance of maintaining a close connection with our listeners and advertisers to understand their needs.