Johannesburg - "I’m excited,” says Thabo “Tbo Touch” Molefe while celebrating a new milestone since launching his online radio station Touch HD in April this year.
This week Touch HD reached 1 million connections – much earlier than Molefe’s goal of reaching the number by March 2018.
“We received a call from iono.fm yesterday [Thursday] telling us the good news.” iono.fm is one of this country’s largest audio content aggregators, offering on-demand audio services for radio stations and other audio content providers.
“We reached a million around 7pm. To us this is quite thrilling because data is still expensive in the country and to compete with normal radio stations you have to give something extra.
“We’ve been working around the clock to make sure that within the 12-month fiscal we’re able to hit the projected numbers. It is clear evidence that digital migration is inevitable,” Molefe says.
He says the station is doing more than just radio.
“Touch HD has a community of listeners who all chat among each other via a live app.
"So we’ve created a social platform where people can engage with each other and exchange details – others give away TVs and stoves, we give away data because data is essential.
"And then there’s the uniqueness of our video streaming with our partner Voov where people can watch what’s happening in studio live.
"It’s all those things that happen around a phone.”
Questions have been raised about the validity of online radio audience measurement with most unsure what resource the proof of true numbers should come from.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau of SA trusts data released by Triton, a streaming service provider.
While most online radio platforms use Google Analytics to measure online radio traffic, this can only speak to desktop and mobile site visits.
Others, such as Gareth Cliff’s Cliff Central, refer to podcast downloads as an indication of the size of the audience they reach.
“The majority of the connections are coming from cellphones,” says Molefe when asked where the connections come from.
“Most of our listeners are owners of Android phones ... 80% is from the Android platforms, 15% from laptops and 5% on tablets,” he says.
Figures show that 71 600 people have downloaded the app and 924 000 podcasts have been downloaded.
Radio futurologist James Cridland tells industry magazine, The Media, that at a very basic level, online streaming statistics can’t count total listeners, but only total devices connected.
“If I listen on my computer at home, then leave the house and start listening on my mobile device, I’ll count as two separate devices, and thus I’ll appear as two separate people.
"Online stats also have no idea whether there is one or 100 people in the room listening, male or female, and how old they are,” Cridland says.
In response, Molefe says: “You can be in a taxi listening to a station – you can’t say 15 people are listening because it’s one taxi, one device, but with digital we can all be in a taxi, four people are streaming Touch HD, six people are streaming City Press FM – you’re counting per device.”
This is different to DJ Sbu’s Massiv Metro (which uses several sources to measure), including using commuter data.
“Radio is no longer about having 7 million listeners, radio is about engagements ... Digital can’t sell speculation stats, engagement can be easily proven,” Molefe insists.
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