There are numerous third-party vendors that offer well-developed streaming audio players and mobile apps, but several radio station groups have taken a more individualistic approach by building their own platforms, including audio players and mobile apps. Company execs say they’re looking for more customization and control than existing products on the market to stand out in a competitive space. Townsquare Media has its own in-house team that develops its apps and works with Triton Digital on audio playback for mobile and desktop. Greater Media designed its web streaming player for desktop and mobile web, and partners with Jacobs Media’s Jacapps on the mobile app.
At Hubbard Radio, in-house developers created a proprietary streaming audio player for all its stations’ websites and mobile apps. Hubbard’s director of Digital Strategy, Jeremy Sinon, says the company wanted a player that worked the same across mobile and web and offered flexibility on features. When Sinon’s team couldn’t find a suitable solution on the market, they set out to engineer their own. “We wanted to be able to control our own destiny,” Sinon says. “Now, we can add features and shape and mold it and be more limber with our tools because we aren’t reliant on a vendor.”
In building their player, Hubbard developers wanted to make the user experience identical on the desktop websites, mobile apps and any other device, which could include smart watches or smart TVs. Hubbard enlisted a Washington DC-based web development firm, The Web Development Group, to help with coding and Jacapps helped execute the mobile app, but the in-house team handled the bulk of the work. All of Hubbard’s stations are live with the new player and updated apps and among the new custom features are stream rewards, where a clock tracks a user’s streaming time across devices and gives prizes for time spent listening. Rewards range from small discounts, like a Subway sandwich coupon, to entries in major contests and giveaways, including vacations and concert tickets. The listening timer crosses over devices and keeps rolling. So, if a user is streaming via a mobile app during their morning commute and then tunes in via their office computer, the streaming clock counter continues uninterrupted. To access this feature, users need to register, and that provides Hubbard with valuable data it can analyze and use for ad sales.
“We get people that will stay with us longer because they want to win prizes and clients are happy because they’re getting exposures and opt-ins on their rewards,” Sinon says.
Federated Media relaunched all of its apps last year and launched a unique streaming player as well. “We have a real desire to grow the brand of the apps in our markets,” Federated Media chief strategy officer, James Derby, told Inside Radio.
Notable features in Federated’s new apps include a streaming player, geo-fencing and geo-targeting capabilities and the option to add sub-channels inside a station’s app. For example, if an artist is coming to perform in a market, the local station can create an app channel featuring their music. The same feature could be used to create a channel for an advertiser, featuring branded content. With Federated’s “My” personalization feature, registered users can skip songs and favorite artists.
With its new player now live in all of its markets, Hubbard is in early talks with other broadcasters to license the unnamed product for other radio apps and websites. It is yet another example of radio companies diversifying in the digital media marketplace. “In the future, you could see us in the software business,” Sinon says.