Launched back in 1999, the SHOUTcast network now includes over 25,000 stations, which attract anywhere between 500,000 and 600,000 listeners daily.
"SHOUTcast has done fine growing organically, but we felt it could do even better with a dedicated team to improve its features," said Lisa Namerow, general manager of SHOUTcast and head of AOL Radio.
AOL plans to relaunch the network next week with an updated search functionality, improved product quality, and new user feedback options, as well increased monetization possibilities for advertisers. According to Namerow, the relaunch of SHOUTcast is the first step in a broader effort to improve its broadcaster tools and APIs for developers to create more compelling applications.
New features include a search toolbar, Facebook application, SHOUTcast blog, new skins available in a variety of colors, as well as a new widget that can be integrated across several social networking groups including Bebo. In addition, the new SHOUTcast will include a high-visibility content area to provide quick access to various features and sections of the site.
In the area of monetization, features including a new toolbar, Quigo ads, and 200x250 ads, according to Namerow. "Our existing advertisers will be taking advantage of the new monetization features we'll be launching," she said.
The new SHOUTcast will be widely accessible and integrated with its sister product Winamp and its global directory of radio stations available on the web, through media players including iTunes and Windows Media Player, mobile media browser-Kinoma Play, on set-top boxes, and devices including Sony Mylo, Sony PSP and Chumby.
U.S. consumers are indeed listening to more online radio, according to a recent survey of over 1,000 adults from American Media Services. A full 33% of respondents said they had listened to Web radio at least once before, and 53% of this group--about 17.5% of the total survey group--reported having tuned in at some point during the previous month.
A separate study by Arbitron Edison Research found that 13% of Americans over the age of 12 had listened to online radio in the last week, up from 11% this time last year.
Additionally, the AMS survey found that 61% of respondents said they listen to the radio -- either traditional or online -- daily. Along the same lines, Arbitron recently found that AM/FM radio reaches about 94% of the American adult population on a weekly basis.
Internet radio proved to be more popular among younger Internet users, with roughly 45% of 18- to 24-year-olds saying they had listened to radio online at least once before. That figure falls to around 40% for 25- to 49-year-olds, and just 6.6% for adults over age 65. Across all age groups, the most popular method for listening was via a home computer (83%) followed by a work computer (43%). Some 38% used a mobile device, and a remarkable 22% were able to access Internet radio in their cars.