Thursday, November 20, 2008

Clear Channel reduces its own HD listening audience

With so much of the attention on the realignment of Sirius XM (and it is understandable), so much of the focus has been taken away from HD Radio. Many believe that HD Radio is a major reason that Clear Channel fought the Satellite Radio merger and helped the merger process drag on months longer than it should have.

Last year when Clear Channel began to add HD channels for many of its stations, the CC web site included a regularly updated list of its HD channels online, along with links so that people could listen to a choice of their HD stations via the internet.

Personally, I took advantage of that several times and liked what I heard on some of the channels their stations offered. Granted, some of the specific channels went the 'catchy name' route, and as a result I had no idea what they were programming. But that is a marketing issue.

Many of their HD music channels went away from the typical Clear Channel restricted playlists and were actually worth a listen.

It had been a month or so since I had listened to one of their HD channels while working in my office, and this morning I went to the site that would enable me to see which HD channels were available via the various markets across the country. And for the first time in over a year, there were no HD Radio choices that I know of.

This web page seems to have been replaced with the menu of online stream choices from Clear Channel around the country. Yes, the actual over-the-air radio stations, which can be selected by music or talk format.

I'm sure that the response from the Clear Channel powers that be will be something along the lines of how they wanted people to sample the HD channels as an incentive for them to buy an HD Radio set so they could enjoy their local HD services. And I can appreciate and understand that response.

However, it is not as though HD Radio has caught on to the point where taking the HD stations away from the internet is not a big deal. As listener dissatisfaction with radio grows, only having their over-the-air stations available for streaming is not going to make people want to rush out and buy an HD Radio for what they will perceive as "more of the same". When they don't enjoy "the same" nearly as much as they once did.

Face it, if AM and FM radio had the degree of competition and over-the-air stations making the effort they once did, there probably wouldn't be any worry about satellite, HD, online channels, or any of the other radio alternatives that have spung within the past few years.

I'm not sure how typical of a radio "consumer" I am these days. But I can tell you that now that the Clear Channel HD Radio channels are not an option for me, I have already gone back to an assortment of online "free" music channels in the different categories that I enjoy.

I wonder whether or not radio station owners will be able to get enough of the population base to sample HD Radio. Not having it available online, and not telling anyone (that I know of) that it has been moved, is not the way to make it happen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Only 7 remain outy of 75, and a few more ar over at RadioTime:

Wow - adios HD Radio!