Wachovia analyst Marci Ryvicker says “HD Radio is not a catalyst” for radio, at least not now.
Marci’s précis of last Wednesday’s SNL Kagan Summit concludes with this paragraph: “HD Radio has been in the works for years, yet it is amazing to us that #1, it is still not in cars (please tell us who would actually buy a radio in the store when there are sexier technological gadgets out there). #2, Radio groups still plan to use the spectrum for programming rather than datacasting or on-demand alternatives. #3, No one can figure out what the revenue model will be.” Ryvicker says “our thoughts: radio does not need more formats or more inventory. Use the spectrum for something else [like datacasting] and get it in the car, as a non-pay option, ASAP.”
The HD Radio debate/situation/deployment is so distracting from the real business at hand--becoming/staying relevant with Gen Y. They are the future and they DO NOT need us. Figure out what they need and want and watch radio's tide begin to turn.
It's not going to be a music play alone. We are going to have to entertain the next generation by talking their language, enabling flexible content platforms (phones and browsers), and then figure out new ways to monetize it because the traditional spot model will not be sufficient.
I am not anti-HD Radio. Maybe I am all wrong about it. I'm not afraid of being wrong. Maybe people will flock to the Apple Store to buy the Polk Audio HD radio/iPod dock for $499.95.
The sales figures at the end of the year will tell the tale. How many HD radio's will be sold? What's your guess?