18 febbraio 2009

USA, NAB strappa uno sconto sul webcasting

La notizia è che la National Association of Broadcasters americana e SoundExchange, la società che raccoglie i diritti per la diffusione della musica, hanno raggiunto un nuovo accordo per il cosiddetto simulcast via Internet, il flusso di programmazione che l'emittente radiofonica tradizionale difffonde in simultanea via etere e sul Web. Sono tariffe piuttosto elevate e destinate a crescere notevolmente nei prossimi cinque anni, ma quel che conta per la NAB è che fino al 2010 i suoi associati pagheranno lo streaming musicale su Web a tariffe comunque più convenienti rispetto a quelle a loro tempo fissate dal Copyright Royalty Board.
Restano i dubbi sulle povere emittenti che trasmettono solo su Internet, esterne al NAB e quindi escluse dalle tariffe preferenziali e impossibilitate a giocare su diversi canali pubblicitari (cosa ha già spinto AOL e Yahoo a liberarsi delle loro Web radio). Ma attenzione, scrive nel commento che segue la newsletter Audiographics. Le famose tariffe concordate con SoundExchange, forfettizzano il pagamento dei diritti in funzione del numero di ascoltatori che si collegano allo stream, in ragione di un tot ogni migliaio di ascoltatori. Le radio devono cominciare a convivere con l'idea che in futuro, diversamente da quanto è sempre accaduto per il modello diffusivo, un pubblico più esteso implicherà un maggior costo per la trasmissionedi brani musicali. E di conseguenza anche il modo di coprire tali costi - cioè la vendita di inserzioni - dovrà seguire un analogo ragionamento. Gli inserzionisti dovranno pagare di più per una pubblicità assai più mirata e misurabile, perché legata a un contenuto trasmesso via Internet e non via etere. Non solo. Nella pubblicità radiofonica ibrida via etere/Web, cambia anche radicalmente il concetto di localismo. Si sa che il mercato pubblicitario radiofonico americano viene suddiviso in tanti bacini e gli inserzionisti che acquistano uno spazio per essere ascoltati in un dato bacino sono anche quelli che si muovono, commercialmente, nell'ambito di quel territorio. Un brand nazionale non farà mai pubblicità su una stazione che si ascolta in una piccola città o comunque non investirà mai troppi soldi. E invece, con lo stream via Internet, cambiano anche quelle carte in tavola. Oggi una stazione non può andare a vendere pubblicità a un inserzionista che lavora in aree non coperte dal segnale. Ma se l'inserzionista in questione ha un sito Web raggiungibile da tutte le località americane la stazione ha uno stream Web che potenzialmente le consente di arrivare ovunque, perché l'inserzionista non dovrebbe acquistare uno spazio su quello stream? Un discorso molto logico, che dimostra come Internet, in una certa misura, ha davvero cambiato le vecchie regole e i mezzi tradizionali devono ancora abituarsi all'idea.
NAB reaches webcasting deal with SoundExchange
February 16, 2009

Soundexchange Two down, four or more to go. SoundExchange, the firm that collects royalties on behalf of labels and performing artists, announced a compromise today with the National Assn. of Broadcasters that settles a nearly 2-year-old dispute over royalties for online radio simulcasts. The deal comes one month after SoundExchange reached agreement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Those pacts leave commercial webcasters, religious broadcasters, college radio and, possibly, hobbyists still seeking better terms than a Copyright Royalty Board decreed early in 2007. Unfortunately, the NAB deal isn't likely to break the logjam for the other webcasters -- simulcasts have much better economics than webcasts do, so NAB members can afford higher rates.
Many webcasters viewed the CRB's order as devastating because it would have more than doubled the royalty rate per song played online. The rate from 1998 to 2005 was 76 cents per 1,000 listeners for large commercial stations, and 20 cents for non-commercial ones. The CRB set a common per-song rate for both that rose from 80 cents per 1,000 listeners in 2006 to $1.90 in 2010. Combined with bandwidth costs and other expenses, those fees test the limits of what some webcasters can make selling advertisements. In response, SoundExchange argues that just as webcasters can't expect discounts from ISPs and utilities, they shouldn't demand "subsidies" from recording artists and record labels. Yet the rates apparently were high enough to prompt dramatic retreats by two of the most popular webcasters, AOL and Yahoo. Both turned over their radio streams to CBS, which was better positioned to market them to radio-friendly local advertisers.
Under the deal announced today, local radio stations will pay a per-song rate of $1.50 per thousand listeners in 2009 and 2010, compared with the CRB's $1.80 and $1.90, respectively. But the deal also calls for rates to rise to $2.50 by 2015. It's worth noting that commercial radio simulcasts (simultaneous online transmissions of over-the-air feeds) can be more lucrative than made-for-the-Internet webcasts because they cost little to produce and include far more commercials per hour. That's why it seems unlikely that the terms agreed to by the NAB will be appealing to other webcasters.
Congress had given each group of webcasters and SoundExchange until Sunday to negotiate deals whose terms would become available to every member of that group. With the deadline passed, it's not clear what will happen next. The courts will soon weigh in: A federal appeals panel in Washington is set to hear the webcasters' legal challenge to the CRB's ruling on March 19.


"Local" Covers Larger Area in Radio Today

If there's anything good to come out of the NAB agreement with SoundExchange for local broadcasters, it's that the radio industry will soon understand it must stretch its concept of the term "local" to survive after paying those streaming rates.
Let's quickly go over the terms: from $0.0015, a gradual increase to $0.0025 for each listener for each recording by 2015. It starts at 16% less than what is being demanded of pure-play internet radio stations. If you are interested in seeing what was offered to small webcasters, the agreement is here and the agreement term sheet is here.
There are two thoughts about NAB signing this deal:

1) Radio won't make it work without reconstructing how it sells its online audience.

2) The streaming fee will go up as each station builds its audience online.

Let's take the second point first because it's far from anything the radio industry has ever had to deal with: an escalating expense associated with extending audience reach. This brings a new metric to radio, "Revenue Per Visitor." It's a mathematically certain way to show whether each audience member makes you money, or costs you. The formula is Revenue Generated/Visitors = Revenue Per Visitor.
With server log analytics, you'll see how minor adjustments in web site programming elements add to your revenue or cause people to leave.
Revenue Per Visitor was never considered in a radio station's programming cost before because you could never track audience size. At $0.0025 for each listener, for each recording, you now know that it's technically possible to count an online audience accurately. You may also begin to see the granularity of measurements a radio sales staff can offer in its web site ad package.
It's no secret that HOW radio sells itself is antiquated. So, reconstructing your sales plan is useful if moving this old approach online.
As the NAB and SoundExchange agreement proves, accounting of an online audience is accurate enough to base your costs on it. The natural extension, then, is to offer clients this same granular accountability as a premium service attached to an advertising campaign. You can establish separate revenue streams for a variety of reports you are now able to provide advertisers.
Now about those advertisers, and getting back to our mention of stretching the concept of "local." Anyone listening to your radio station online, who lives in your ADI, helps represent approximately 40% of your web site's total visitors. (That's a very general/generous estimate based on years of watching data like this.) 60% of your web site traffic will come from outside of your market.
Focus selling to the 60% of outsiders by targeting (as advertisers) your town's businesses which have web sites offering online transactions.
If the radio industry is going to sign agreements to pay by audience numbers, it needs to establish methods of charging advertisers using the same audience numbers. (BTW: $0.0025 per listener for each recording may not sound like much until you extrapolate that over an AQH of 15,000.)
By setting up to pay these very high copyright royalty fees, NAB may have just pushed its radio members into tomorrow. Radio industry executives must now look at audience numbers on a much more molecular scale - where most in-the-know ad buyers are starting to settle.
When these execs look, their eyes will open wide; only we won't be able to tell if it's from an amazement at what stands before them, or the amount of money they will need to pay for streaming to an online audience.

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