The Case for streaming

Mar 5, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Age: 38.
Title: CEO, StreamAudio.
Location: Tacoma, Wash.
Employees: 12.
Financial backers: Privately funded through Bedrock and Associates, which consists of Mr. Case and three partners, who for the past 10 years have bought and sold radio stations.
The Internet is changing nearly every facet of the entertainment industry. The changes will be especially dramatic for radio, which will move from an audio-only experience to a multimedia one.
Bob Case, CEO of StreamAudio, recognized early on that the real action on the Internet would take place on sites that combine traditional over-the-air broadcast with the interactive qualities of the Web. “Tying traditional media to the Internet just works,” he said. “We think that’s the secret sauce.”
For 25 years, Mr. Case has owned and operated radio stations. Two years ago, he teamed with software developer Darren Harle to build StreamAudio, a company focused on helping radio stations put their signals on the Web.
“It was borne out of pure frustration of not being able to stream my radio station on the Internet in a cost-effective, sensible way,” Mr. Case said. “I looked at every provider out there. It cost too much. It was a binding agreement that I just couldn’t live with, and they couldn’t offer what I wanted, which was to show the name of the song and artist for everything we play.”
A year ago, StreamAudio went to market with a solution that provides that “now playing” feature. It also offers ad replacement technology, which allows one ad to be played on the radio while another plays on the Internet.
“We went out with all of this technology at no cost to radio, and we were just swamped with response,” said Mr. Case. “What’s so exciting is that it makes radio multimedia. All of a sudden you not only have sounds, but you have pictures, text and interactivity. It’s a very exciting combination.”
Last year, 56 million Americans streamed a radio station online, and Mr. Case is confident the number will continue to grow. “I’ve always said it’s a matter of when, not if,” he said. “Last week, one of our top radio stations had 43,900 people listen to it through the Internet. Six months ago, that same radio station had 10,000 listeners.”
Mr. Case also expects Internet listeners to attract advertisers. According to a recent Arbitron/Edison Media Research study, “streamers” spend more than twice as much time online and have purchased twice as many products online as nonstreaming Internet users.
StreamAudio is now the biggest streamer of radio in the United States, offering the signals of 740 radio stations across the country. It recently signed Cox Interactive Radio to provide its streaming and revenue-sharing ad insertion solution for all 83 Cox Radio properties.
“Without question, Bob understands the opportunity that’s out there,” said Gregg Lindahl, vice president of CXRi. “But he also understands the realities that the operators feel on a daily basis, and he’s developed a company that can assist them in moving their broadcast signals to the Internet with a minimum of additional kinds of pressure.”
Over the next several months, Mr. Case plans to focus on the complete deployment of the Cox radio stations and getting the ad replacement concept working on a grand scale. “Radio stations will come to know us as the way to make money on the Internet in the streaming space,” he said.