More than 200 professionals attending the Ontario Association of Broadcasters annual conference and awards program at the Toronto Airport Marriott were in ebullient spirits Thursday, but the big takeaway was much the same as that headlined in last year’s events.
And that is it is time broadcasters started listening to what audiences want and stop talking about audience-engagement in an era when audiences are drifting to a broader spectrum of online news, information and music services.
Audience-engagement, or at least what broadcasters like to describe as audience-engagement, is treading on thin ice.
Last year, a panel of millennials told the Connection 2016 attendees that they wanted more variety in the music programmed, are often-times bored with the chatter, uninspired by the delivery, and annoyed by the sameness of formats found on FM dial.
This year, Jeff Vidler’s Audience Insights’ consultancy and research firm assembled a panel of tech-savvy 35 to 54-year-olds, dubbed GenX-ers.
The first point broadcasters need to ponder seriously is that after a headline of hyperbolic huffing and puffing trumpeting the arrival of the Radioplayer and the iHeartRadio apps in Canada, the exercise was a bust. Only one of eight panelists appeared to have heard of either, whereas most are currently content using the American aggregator TuneIn app that offers users the ability to listen to streaming audio from over 100,000 radio networks and radio stations worldwide, as well as providing a menu of available podcasts and audiobooks.
Local news and information are paramount to this audience block, and the kind of hamster-wheel news cycle taken to the extreme by CNN is a tune-out. Most everyone on the panel agreed that a local emphasis on news and information is welcome, and a package of ‘what’s going on in town’ is strongly desired.
The panelists have radios in their homes, but they don’t turn them on.
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