A Euroradio quest to find the "perfect media app" concludes that there is no single application currently in existence to serve the needs of every public service media (PSM).
The study, led by the EBU's head of radio Christian Vogg, collected more than 550 different apps throughout Europe for analysis including apps for radio or TV only, mixed radio and TV apps and special apps.
Mr Vogg said that it is difficult to define the perfect app because of the wide range of needs within the EBU Community. "There's a lot of experimentation taking place out there in regard to the number of apps per organization and the features and functions they offer," Vogg explained, "while some broadcasters are content with software that simply streams audio, others require more interactive, content rich applications."
Additionally broadcasters' demands regarding their apps change almost yearly. Consequently, broadcasters copy from each other, develop, add and sometimes delete certain features and functions.
According to Vogg, the Euroradio report (now available online) offers an overview of what is currently in vogue - regarding platforms, technologies and content - in an app market that is in constant flux.
Additionally, the findings of the report further support to need to find an affordable broadcast solution, as with EBU's Euro-Chip initiative, as more consumers listen to radio and watch TV on mobile devices.
The most popular feature in apps from PSM are audio live streams, mostly provided as MP3 (128 kbps), offered by 90 per cent of organizations surveyed. Video live streams are only provided by 38 per cent. The standard codec used for live video is H.264/MPEG-4. So live audio streaming seems much easier to realize, more cost-efficient and easier to manage than video live streaming. Also from a rights perspective videos are more complicated than radio.
In general, having an app appears to have been the priority for most; and of those that do not have a dedicated mobile website, only 39 per cent plan to create one soon. Others are still deciding whether to launch a mobile or responsive website; citing cost as an issue for responsive design.
One of the biggest challenges is getting high quality user data. 94 per cent of organizations responding to the survey have a tool to monitor website traffic and 81 per cent have one to monitor their app traffic. The problem is to compare off-air listening figures to live stream via the app and to podcast downloads. There is still the need for a comparable "currency" on audience. This will be a task for the future to develop coherent measuring tools across all platforms. Interactivity is an important feature of apps.