Not the answer. The question is wrong–-and misleading.
It’s wrong because people don’t listen to local radio. They listen to local radio stations. The difference is critically important in how listeners answer the question.
If you want to know whether a person prefers Pandora to local radio stations, you have to ask the listener about the specific radio stations he or she listens to.
People only listen to a few local radio stations, and they feel most strongly about just one or two.
Listeners don’t think much of local radio because they don’t like most local radio stations. In fact, even before Pandora and on-line alternatives, listeners thought most local radio sucked.
But a person’s favorite local radio station isn’t like all the others he or she doesn’t listen to. It’s special–-and to that listener much better.
That’s the problem with research comparing local radio to Pandora.
Lump all of local radio together, and of course Pandora is going to look better.
A much fairer comparison is to ask a listener to compare his or her favorite local radio station to Pandora.
Harker Research recently did that, and Pandora didn’t look nearly as strong as the headlines suggest.
We found that listeners rate their favorite local radio station higher than Pandora. And more importantly, one’s favorite radio station would be harder to replace than Pandora.
A listener has one local radio station that he or she can't live without, but Pandora does a pretty good job of replacing the rest.
So the good news is that Pandora isn’t better than a person’s favorite local station. The bad news is that it is better than all the others.
There’s been a lot of talk about how PPM is all about cume, that being a listener’s P-1 is less important with PPM.
Even if that were true (and we don’t think it is), it clearly isn’t true if we factor in future competition from personalized Internet radio.
Pandora isn’t going to replace local broadcast radio, but it will make it harder to survive as a mediocre station.