It’s not often that we get a chance to see the impact of mobile listening up close. The latest Triton Digital numbers offers us one of those rare opportunities.
For the first few months, only Slacker’s computer-based listeners were counted.
Then sometime around November, Ando began including mobile listeners in the service’s count.
The graph above shows what happened.
The orange line shows the session TSL trend. When only computers were counted, average sessions lasted about 1:45. Now with mobile added, average session length has plummeted to less than 45 minutes.
The green line shows Session Starts in millions. After several months hovering in the mid four million range, Slacker “took off” in November, settling over the 20 million mark.
While some portrayed the 4.5 million to 20 million Session Start gain as growth, it's likely there was very little real growth.
The “spurt” beginning in November simply shows that mobile listening makes up a great deal of Slacker listening. Before November Ando didn’t count it. Beginning sometime in November Ando started.
The warning for those who believe that mobile will be the real breakthrough for streaming is the precipitous decline in Slacker’s TSL once mobile listening was counted.
You can see it in Slacker total consumption measured in hours-tuned.
While Slacker’s Session Starts increased more than four-fold (+355%), total hours-tuned grew less than two-fold (+84%).
What it tells us is that Slacker’s 15+ million mobile users are spending virtually no time with the service. Slacker’s TSL is coming from the service’s computer-based users.
Most agree that streaming growth is going to come from a wave of new mobile users. If that is the case, we will see more Slacker-type growth, lots of new sessions spending little more than a few minutes of drive-by listening.
For subscription-based services, that’s no big deal. A paying subscriber is a paying subscriber no matter how little she listens.
For advertising-based services, it’s a much bigger deal. Very short listening spans are problematic when you’re trying to sell advertisers.
Advertisers want to have some confidence that users are going to see or hear their commercials. The most common way to do this online is to have a pre-roll position, one or more commercials that users have to sit through to hear the service.
The problem is that with short listening spans, all the user will hear is the pre-roll--not a good way to build an audience, or a business.