Launching spin-offs, or brand extensions, for radio stations has been all the rage in the UK for the past few years. It was re-born by Clive Dickens who was running Absolute Radio, when he pushed live Absolute 80s. Like all good (re)inventions it was somewhat driven by a combination of opportunity and necessity.
2020 saw lots of audio acquisitions particularly around podcast content and ad-tech. If you were a big boy, or wanted to be, you got out the chequebook and started buying.
Spotify was the poster-boy for this (Gimlet, Parcast, Megaphone) but there was also iHeart buying Voxnest, SiriusXM getting Stitcher and a loads of others too.
One of the issues has been large companies were running out of big podcast companies to buy. In the content space, one of the top indies left was Wondery, and just before the New Year Amazon announced they were snaffling it up.
Turns out a global pandemic is likely to shake things up a bit. With much of the country locked in their homes many new behaviours have been learned and others accelerated.
Internet shopping, video calls, smart speakers, streaming services – all nothing new, but now something that’s become a bigger part of people’s lives. Disney+, alive for just nine months, has over a quarter of the subscribers of Netflix (3.5m vs 12.8m). With the groundwork done on streaming to the TV from Netflix, the BBC and Amazon, powerful new entrants can certainly make a splash without ten years of heavy lifting.
Turns out he’s popped up 300 ‘restaurants’ selling a small selection of burgers based on him and his crew. That sounds pretty crazy, but he’s managed it. The ‘restaurants’ are really delivery locations – that people can access using UberEats and similar apps.
I was sad to hear that Siobhan Kenny is stepping down as Chief Executive of Radiocentre. In the UK, Radiocentre is the commercial radio trade body, working for the sector’s interests, managing relationships with Government (important for a regulated industry) and the BBC, as well as participating and leading cross-industry initiatives.
I can’t imagine it’s an easy job. Your board consists of the leaders of the two main commercial radio groups, Bauer and Global, who are fierce competitors, the boss of Communicorp UK, a representative of the smaller radio groups, as well as an independent chair.
Podcasts have tended to be music-free zones because of licensing restrictions. When Spotify entered the space, many asked whether they would be able to fix this? And, well, er, they’ve, um, not really got there but they have created something new. Ish.
Apple’s rebirth, post the return of Steve Jobs, came from its simplicity. When he returned, he stripped down their line-up to four areas.
He was a big fan of simplicity:
That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
Donald Trump has been good for the news business. A crazy imperial leader, fawning courtiers and a strong resistance has meant a 24 hour-a-day reality show for news channels and publishers to cover. His desperation to lead the news, meant he generated it, all day every day.
In America, it’s meant that the news channels are riding high in ratings and revenue. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News have done well by following one story – a soap opera where you can tune to the channel to get your point of view reflected. Indeed, Fox News is doing so well that it’s Primetime line-up of propagandists are getting better ratings than the evening line-up on broadcast entertainment channels ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.