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Cooke: Will You Be Ready When On-Demand Content Is Rated?

| November 25, 2014

Wake-Up Call: Nielsen will rate Netflix and other video on-demand


By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


cookewriterBLOCK ISLAND, RI — With hits like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” re-defining television, it was inevitable.

How soon before Nielsen measures podcasts, streams, and non-transmitter-delivered audio?  Hopefully, not before radio smells the coffee, and steps up on-demand delivery.

Most stations do on-demand all wrong, typically archiving on-air shows, deeper within the station website than many listeners will bother clicking.  Too often, those who do get there find whole hours labeled only by date and time.

More useful: single-topic excerpts, closer in length to how long listeners spend walking the dog, or on Stairmaster, or commuting to work.  Offered in that fashion, these podcasts can be subscription catnip, Twitter GOLD, and sponsorable.

And that just scratches the surface.  Don’t presume all you have to offer on-demand is reruns.  Beyond better-exposing what-aired, original digital content — promoted on-air – can:

  1. Expand talk stations’ weekend specialty programming repertoire (think “infomercials”) beyond available live hours.
  2. Enable music stations to exploit specialty programming, without stopping the music on-air.
  3. Exploit narrowcast topics that have a following (which retailers serve) but don’t warrant transmitter time.
  4. Revive the radio farm system that got clobbered by automation and syndication.  Newbies podcast before they graduate to broadcast.
  5. Rescue Sunday mornings from live church services, which typically feature lots of dead air, parishioners coughing, off-mic/off-key organ music, and other audio sins…all so the clergy can preach.  Typically, unsurprisingly, these hours’ ratings tank, because the faithful are IN church; so you’re talking to a handful of elderly shut-ins.  Yet this stuff continues to air on some surprisingly big stations, because it’s been there 100 years and it’s paid.  Instead, give ‘em more-for-their-money’s-worth by creating a micro-site.
  • Make the sermon available as a podcast that doesn’t ask the flock to sit through an hour of bad radio.
  • Make this weekend’s sermon available all week.
  • And not just this week’s.  Archive ‘em all, listed by the sermon title many churches post out front.
  • Give the rev’ a blog.
  • Set up a virtual collection plate (PayPal).
  • Enable the church to sell ad banners/links.  They’re already selling ads in their bulletin.
  • Etc., etc., etc.

The bottom line is sobering math.  At any given moment (AQH), most of your listeners (weekly cume) aren’t listening.  We dare not let radio be, conspicuously, the only media choice that doesn’t offer the same consumption convenience listeners now expect and advertisers need.


Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; and he covers conventions for Talkers and RadioInfo.  Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice, Digital