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Absolute Radio has recently stopped allowing access to its internet streams outside the UK. Presumably this will be to save money. Just out of interest, what kind of sums are we talking here for international music licensing? The majority of stations, large or small, still seem to allow global internet access to their streams, so is it really that expensive?
I remember seeing somewhere that there are 5.5 million British expats globally which broadcasters tend to forget. Not all of those countries have radio or television in English. Plus you do have a market for English speaking countries.
Rights do seem a very grey area.
I know for a fact you can still pick up 1215KHz during the hours of darkness in neighbouring European countries.
Regardless of the number of expat Brits, the average commercial radio station in the UK can’t directly monetize them, so they’re not a priority. If Bauer really can save significant money by pulling the international streaming, then I can understand that, even if I don’t like it. I’d be interested to know just how much they’re likely to be saving, though.
TV companies typically block their streams outside their own territories for the simple reason that if they didn’t, they’d have to pay for global broadcast rights for each individual programme – which would be phenomenally expensive if they were even available, which generally they aren’t. The model for TV distribution is to licence to separate broadcasters country-by-country.
Picking up “traditional” over-the-air broadcasts well outside the intended coverage area is another matter altogether, and not something that’s really in any broadcaster’s control.
I remember them doing targeted adds on their online streaming. They could run adds on internationally known brands for their international listeners. It could be that they have dropped targeted adds and that could be why they have pulled the plug on international listeners?
Around 50% of Virgin Radio’s online listeners were abroad: and while I gather that number shrank after the name change, it was still a significant cost in terms of bandwidth. And it’s bandwidth that was the main cost here. I’m unclear whether Absolute ever started paying music rights to international rights holders: Virgin Radio never did (it was a very grey area).
Internet radio listening is tiny; and while Virgin Radio was, when I was there, the world’s most listened-to online radio station, that still meant it was pretty small by broadcast standards. A UK-based sales team should focus on where the money is: during my time at Virgin I successfully lobbied for the digital-only adbreaks to be removed, and for the advertising to be the same as carried on 1215AM. The sound of the station was significantly improved as a result – with some real advertising, rather than 80% of the breaks being filled by the same tedious “buy a digital radio” freebie advertising (which regularly appeared in every single break).
Technology has moved on: and Absolute could have used companies to help monetise their international audience. However, that could only have been done if they had the full rights to stream music internationally – since the music licensing game changes significantly if you are seen to be making money from international audiences. That is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.
They could run adds on internationally known brands for their international listeners
Global brands prefer to buy their advertising on a territory-by-territory basis, though – and they’ll already be advertising in the countries where British expats are living.
it’s bandwidth that was the main cost here
Cheers James, I hadn’t thought of it like that. I was assuming that music rights would have been the issue.
It’s such a shame just to turn something off like that, without even giving the audience the chance to pay in order to keep it going.
They seem to be trying with their Planet Rock listeners club to get some cash out of the die hard fans and I would certainly be willing to pay a monthly amount to continue listening to my favourite overseas stations.
Even though the regulations are awkward and the costs expensive, I would have liked to see Absolute, with its reputation for innovation, being able to crack this problem, maybe via a partnership with a social networking platform.
One day, someone will. And they’ll reap the rewards.
It’s actually easy enough to get round the block, at least if you’re listening via a computer or mobile device. If you’re using a dedicated internet radio then unless it has built-in VPN functionality, you’d have to buy a router with integrated VPN.
So did Radio Today pick up on the story thanks to this thread? :)
I know. Dedicated listeners will find a way round it, but the sad thing is that here’s a broadcaster, providing a service, which a fair number of people want, and yet they can’t find a way of providing it in a way that boosts their revenue.
In this day and age, that’s rubbish.
I don’t mean Absolute/Bauer are rubbish, although I’m disappointed they couldn’t find a way round it, but mainly I mean the whole system stinks.
It does seem a bit of a strange concept to charge different royalty rates for where you audience is listening even though it will end up going to the same artist, composer etc… In fact raising the prices for international listener will have a knock on effect of geoblocking and hence will not reap the benefits of having higher prices.
Exactly Peter, they end up with nothing. Whereas if common sense and compromise prevailed they could maybe get something that everyone was happy with.