What do listeners listen to when they listen to radio online?

There seems to be a difference between the radio dial and an Internet click.

According to new figures just released by hear 2.0, terrestrial radio may be missing a beat when it come to the Internet.

When the firm asked a random cross-section of 1,000 Americans across the country (ages 12 to 54) if they had ever listened to streaming audio or Internet radio online, 43% replied that they had. No surprise there.

The surprise came when hear 2.0 asked those listeners who replied yes to the previous question if they listened to a local radio station, a radio station from somewhere else or a specialized Internet radio site, such as Live 365 or Launchcast/Yahoo Music. Amazingly, 40% of them said they tuned in a specialized Internet radio site, compared to only 26% who listened to their local radio online.

There is little loyalty shown by radio listeners online. In fact, the local sites were barely preferred over non-local radio sites online.

"The number one reason local stations don’t score higher is simply that many of them still don’t stream their programming," said Mark Ramsey, president of hear 2.0. "But, even when the local stations are online, the experience of going to a dedicated, specialized online radio site is richer."

In another worrisome finding for local radio stations, the use of specialized Internet radio sites versus local stations was even more pronounced among listeners 12 to 24, and marginally higher for listeners 25 to 34.

"Broadcasters should be alarmed at the strong usage of non-terrestrial radio online options among persons under 35," said Harve Alan, hear 2.0 EVP. "This is both a threat and an opportunity for local radio, and now is the time to act."

More here.