Is satellite radio the future or just a stepping-stone to something different?
Satellite radio is popular because it airs multiple channels commercial free and is often standard in many new car purchases (with a temporary paid subscription).
HD radio is another method used by terrestrial radio stations to improve their listenership, but very few listeners are spending the money to purchase an HD receiver, which remains largely unavailable.
Let me see if this makes sense. Satellite radio has been problematic because there are still enough people who enjoy FREE radio. Many can tolerate the commercial content in order to hear music they like at no cost.
Many on air hosts who have had satellite radio shows have ultimately sought release from their contract because the total number of listeners remains much smaller than a traditional terrestrial radio network.
Audio streaming as pertains to Internet broadcasting may be the future especially in urban areas where wi-fi zones are prominent.
There are those that argue the point, but one has to wonder if a mechanism that would allow individuals to receive audio streaming in their automobiles might render both satellite and HD radio an obsolete method of audio delivery.
Already consumers can find portable Internet radio players that will record programs for later playback. Again, there are those that indicate any standard mp3 player could do something similar, but in a world where Internet radio could be played anywhere the possibilities for listening choices expands infinitely.
For instance not every audio interest is represented via satellite or HD radio, but listeners have a virtually unlimited choice of audio streams via the Internet.
Home devices are already available that will retransmit an Internet audio stream via a home stereo. Users report enjoying the ability to listen to a program, personality or music they do not have the ability to hear any other way.
The potential for Internet radio is that it benefits existing radio stations as well as Internet audio streaming providers. If, for instance, a family is moving from one location to another, but they have an emotional connection to a regional radio station they can effectively take that station with them.
Most audio streaming providers will tell you they have listeners on a global scale. Because most Internet audio streams are available without a fee this type of audio stream is very similar to traditional radio. It is more commonly available and may be utilized more on an overall basis than satellite and HD radio combined.
People are fulfilling their audio needs through a variety of sources, but the hard times faced by HD and satellite radio may simply pave the way for the next generation of audio delivery.
Internet audio streaming may be a bit like traditional radio in one sense. In order to survive many of them need advertising revenue to keep the service free. This could come in the form of audio advertisements, but it can also come in visual ads on the website or by providing an affiliate link for listeners to purchase the music being played with a percentage of the sale going back to the audio stream provider.
No matter how you look at it the audio stream has to be paid for in some way and Internet providers are finding creative ways to do that as they attempt to make the future an act of the present.
Scott Lindsay is a web developer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of HighPowerSites and many other web projects.