Play.it – Can CBS do what NBC did with Hulu.com?

Well so much for my next post being short.

I was recently invited to attend CBS radio’s crap what are we going to do about the internet taking all our money Next Generation presentation.  As most of you probably already know, CBS radio now owns both LastFM and AOL Radio, making them the number one provider of online music, something they are very proud of.

Having gone into this presentation with a skeptical eye, I was very surprised with what I heard. CBS understands radio is going online, and is doing some innovative things to make sure they continue to be the online radio leader.

First, they are giving more seamless access to all the stations that are part of CBS. They are even going so far as to recommend stations you might like in other areas.  Some of this is still in private beta but the first step is now online.  Right now when you stream any CBS station on the bottom there is a stations tab to  see other stations or recommendations. (ok the interface needs to be more intuitive, and sexy)

The best thing about it for advertisers is that ads can be inserted locally on all stations.  So even though someone in Seattle is streaming WCBS in NY, they will still hear and see local ads.

So I know everyone (all two of you who read this)  is saying, I don’t want to listen to preprogrammed stations, what about the next evolution of Pandora or LastFM.

Well CBS has that covered as well with Play.it . Seems weird they would launch a competitor to LastFM but there is room for another player in the market.  What’s unique about Play.it is that instead of just saying you like or don’t like a song like every other player, you can also tell it how much you like or don’t like a song.  You do this by moving the CD Art around on a dart board.  Off the board will not get played, bulls eye music will be played the most.

This is a great feature, and allows you to personalize your playlist to a higher degree than the competition.  They are even going to let you rate songs you hear while streaming any of their radio stations.  (Not that anyone is going to be streaming a typical radio station, once they discover the ability to make a custom station.)

Will this work?  A lot of that depends the algorithms and databases they use in customizing the music to your taste.  I have tried LastFM a few times but always go back to Pandora because I like the mix of music they send me. (I probably just need to give LastFM more information.)

It also depends on if CBS is willing to promote Play.it.  The one thing that has plagued LastFM and Pandora is that they have very little awareness.  If CBS puts some effort behind Play.it, it could overtake the other two in a matter of months.  They already have a wide advertising network with their traditional stations, and it would cost them very little money to get the DJ’s to talk about it on air.

Is this the future of radio?  A lot of questions need to be answered , like social integration, player customization, sound quality, etc.   One little tidbit that will help, is that they have locked up with Apple to be the exclusive player on the new Iphone.(this turned out not to be true.  (thank God)  I guess you never can trust what you hear in a sales presentation!)

In my next post I will give my vision for the future of radio, and for that matter all media.  CBS is doing what I consider the first step, I will show you the next few steps.

Kevin

  • http://123socialmedia.com Brian Crouch

    Hi Kevin,

    How do you see this connecting with Sirius and XM?

  • http://changeitmarketing.com Kevin

    Brian,

    The merger will definitely help, but I do not think it will be enough to give them a big bump in subscribers. I view satellite radio as kind’ of the HBO and Showtime of radio. Great content, but not too many people are willing to pay for it. You can see this in their stagnant growth over the last couple of years.

    Plus being someone who has been called an audiophile, the sound quality bugs me. XM is ok but Sirius, is horrible. I’m guessing it is a bandwidth issue. Considering most people would be happy with 96K MP3’s this won’t stop a ton of people, just freaks like me.

    The real reason Satellite radio is not going to survive as we now know it is because of bandwidth limitations, and the lack of two way communication. Take a look at http://www.dash.net/ if you have not already. It is a two way GPS Navigation unit. Probably a little ahead of it’s time, and will flop, but definitely where the future is going. Or for that matter look at the Kindle, it almost got it perfect.

    Now how do we apply this to radio? I will talk about my visions for the future of radio in my next post. Maybe Satellite radio will change some things to make it work, but I would not count on them receiving big cash infusion to make it work. Google?

    Kevin Urie

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