Pandora, Not Radio, Doesn’t Understand Radio

I’ve met Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora (NYSE: P). He’s a lovely man.
But, not only do I believe that Pandora is not radio (they stole our brand for a non-live, non-local, non-shared jukebox), it’s becoming rather more obvious that they don’t understand radio stats either.
In a comment to paidContent:UK (which I sometimes write for), Westergren apparently says:
According to Rajar, the official body for measuring radio audiences in the UK, the total number of hours spent listening to internet radio in the U.K. in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 35 million. By contrast, Pandora alone streamed 975 million hours in the U.S. in just the most recent month. Put another way, the number of internet radio hours streamed by all services in the UK in a quarter is roughly equal to the number of Internet radio hours streamed by just Pandora on a single day.
Tim, mate… oh dear… you’ve got it all Pete Tong mate. Gor blimey.
RAJAR (who I do occasional work for) say nothing of the sort.
They actually say that in the fourth quarter of 2011, the total number of hours PER WEEK was 35 million hours. Not in an entire quarter. Per week. You’ve got that wrong by a factor of 12. Let’s hope your IPO wasn’t founded on that kind of back-of-envelope maths.
So, in a month, the UK streams 155 million hours of internet radio. Pandora streamed 975 million hours of personalised jukebox in the US. But – wait. Hold on there. Because we’re still not comparing apples with apples.
RAJAR measures only adults 15+; yet Pandora is measuring everyone, no matter how young or old. RAJAR measures listening; Pandora measures streaming (regardless of whether anyone’s actually listening). RAJAR only measures subscribing stations, too. In short, they’re different measures which you shouldn’t compare. Tim – read this, mate. It’s important.
And then there’s the small issue that the UK is a little smaller than the US. Let’s compare the figures properly, then, shall we?
The UK has 51,951,000 people aged 15+. The US has 311,951,000 people in total (the base for Pandora’s figures). Rebase these figures for the population base, and we actually discover that the UK’s internet radio listening habit is equivalent, if we had a US-size audience, to 930 million hours a month.
Or, as Tim might have put it if he understood these things:
“Put another way, the number of internet radio hours streamed by all services in the UK on a single day that subscribe to RAJAR is roughly equal (95%) to the number of Internet jukebox hours streamed by just Pandora on a single day.”
Which is a little less impressive.
Now, we’re still smaller than Pandora. Not surprisingly, really – Pandora’s a great jukebox service, as I’ve said before; our FM reception is better than the US, DAB now does very well (almost 20% of all listening), and we have radio on the telly these days (which is more popular than radio over the internet). As I repeatedly say, radio is a multi-platform medium and we shouldn’t care how our audiences tune in.
I sympathise with Pandora’s issues with PRS and PPL charges. But it’s really disappointing that, to make the point, Westergren decides to denigrate the entire UK radio industry. Even more disappointingly, it appears that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Tim, mate, if you want a chat before you make a fool of yourself again, get on the dog and bone, mate, yeah? Sorted.

This article originally appeared in .