CBS Radio has relaunched its online streaming media player, offering an immersive multimedia environment for users and more capabilities and placement opportunities for advertisers.
The move comes as traditional radio broadcasters increasingly look to the Web as a key driver of future revenue growth, and follows close on the heels of CBS Radio's re-launch of 90 music station Web sites in April.
The new version of the Radio.com platform gives users a single point of access to streaming media from over 600 stations -- including 130 CBS Radio stations and hundreds of affiliated online-only radio sites. It also has news feeds and blogs maintained by celebrities, reporters and pundits from the worlds of music, news, and sports, and links to all CBS Radio's individual stations.
The relaunched media player offers more artist information, including biographies, photo galleries, touring status and a list of similar artists listeners might like, powered by Last.fm. It also enhances and integrates "scrobbling," allowing users to share their personal music listening habits and preferences with Last.fm database.
Users can share artists, songs, and stations they like with friends via email and social networks Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Linkedin, among others.
Finally, it aggregates blogs, news feeds, and video and audio clips from every CBS Radio station. Currently, 25,000 content posts are populated across the network of sites on a monthly basis.
On the ad front, the player offers advertisers new features including "leave-behind" display units for in-stream advertisements -- on-screen visual messages which remain visible after the streaming audio message ends. The redesign also creates new ad inventory in the form of a visual history of audio spots heard during the audio stream.
Like other traditional radio broadcasters, CBS Radio has invested heavily to expand its online offerings and capabilities, in the expectation that online radio will be a key source of ad revenue growth in coming years.
The online play is especially important in light of the steep decline in broadcast radio ad revenues during the recession. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, total radio ad revenues declined 32% from $21.7 billion in 2006 to $16 billion in 2009.
Online advertising remains a fairly small part of the overall business, with digital revenues of just $480 million in 2009 -- 3% of the total.