RAIN 8/6: NYT spotlights TuneIn, iHeartRadio as the aggregators go "head-to-head"

Michael Schmitt
August 6, 2012 - 12:45pm

TuneIn and iHeartRadioWeb radio aggregators TuneIn and Clear Channel's iHeartRadio have become "symbols for the challenges of adapting to the digital age" for the radio industry, writes the New York Times. The two services -- now "going head-to-head in the marketplace" -- actually have much in common.

Both offer an enormous range of radio station streams (70,000 from TuneIn, nearly 2,000 live stations from iHeartRadio). Both are increasingly popular: TuneIn just today announced it now has 40 million monthly users, while Clear Channel says iHeartRadio has more than 12 million registered users.

"But as businesses they represent two poles of media," writes NYT. Where TuneIn only serves as an aggregator or directory, iHeartRadio has launched its own customizable radio service "modeled after Pandora" (not mention a series of "iHeartRadio Originals" stations, here). And iHeartRadio is only a piece of Clear Channel. That's a trait CC executives say is an advantage.

"The great thing about iHeartRadio,” said Clear Channel Media and Entertainment CEO John Hogan, “is that it is just one of a number of opportunities that we have to monetize the audience." 

Federated Media has just announced they will add their 17 radio stations to iHeartRadio (more coverage here). And iHeartRadio has added a new station dedicated to financial talk radio host Dave Ramsey (more coverage here).

But some broadcasters feel uneasy "about joining a platform run by the biggest player in the market," especially when "Clear Channel has been aggressive in pushing for exclusivity." That includes Entercom, which has joined TuneIn but not yet iHeartRadio. "Sharing our content is a good thing, if the business arrangement makes sense," said Entercom CEO David Field (more here).

TuneIn, on the other hand, is independent. That means it doesn't have the same sort of major media company backing as iHeartRadio, though TuneIn has just announced $16 million in new funding (bringing its total financing up to $22 million).

New York TimesBut that also means TuneIn has a level of "neutrality in the radio business," which the company says makes it a "safer choice for broadcasters." TuneIn CEO John Donham told NYT, "We are not a broadcaster, so we do not have any inherent interest for any broadcaster to succeed or fail."

More and more broadcasters, however, have opted to join both platforms. They aim "to be everywhere they could be possibly be."

"Everybody is looking at this and saying, look, you don’t know where the world is going, and you need to be in a lot of places,” said Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan. KCRW director of interactive media Anil Dewan said, "Our mission is about getting our content to as wide an audience as possible." Both KCRW and Emmis have joined TuneIn and iHeartRadio.

"It would be better for services and listeners if there were more than two aggregators offering access to every service out there, making it as easy as possible to listen," argues Audio4Cast's Jennifer Lane (here). "And stations, broadcasters and pureplays, should work with all of them."

Though "thorny" problems remain -- including "the possibility of being lost within the aggregators, like needles in enormous digital haystacks" -- the NYT writes (here) that both iHeartRadio and TuneIn can "help [radio broadcasters] reach audiences in the growing but increasingly fragmented world of online radio."

Paul Maloney
August 6, 2012 - 12:45pm

Pandora says its July numbers show it now claims a 6.13% share of total U.S. radio listening. The leading webcaster streamed 1.2 billion hours of content last month to an active audience that grew to nearly 55 million by month's end.

It's an impressive comparison to July 2011's figures. Then, Pandora streamed 637 million hours (which means they're up 76% in the last year) to 37 million active listeners (so, a 48% increase), representing 3.51% of total U.S. radio listening.

Interestingly, audience survey firm The Media Audit on Friday issued a correction to its recently reported Pandora estimates (which were reported in RAIN here). They reported Pandora's current total reach as 11.3% with adults 18+. As it turns out, the company didn't ask survey respondents about Pandora in 20 of the 81 markets it studies. So, when only those 61 markets in which Pandora usage was measured are tabulated, its shows "Pandora's reach among adults within The Media Audit's 61 measured markets to be 22.6%, and represents more than 30.7 million unique monthly users within that same footprint."

Salt Lake City was Pandora's top market among those The Media Audit surveyed, showing almost 32% of its 18+ population having logged onto Pandora in the typical month. SLC tops Boston (30.7%), Atlanta (30.3%), San Diego (28.8%), and Charleston (27.9%).

Read Pandora's press release here; The Media Audit's correction here.

Paul Maloney
August 6, 2012 - 12:45pm

"As part of its effort to 'unmute the web,' SoundCloud is courting radio news professionals, podcasters, and indie storytellers," reports the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard. "A year-old team of about a half-dozen people is focused on spoken-word content. The company just hired Jim Colgan, formerly a producer and digital experimenter for WNYC public radio, to manage partnerships with audio providers."

SoundCloud gives music and spoken word creators an easy way to publish and share their audio online. Its efforts can be seen as an attempt to rectify the "neglect" of sound on the web and establish a standard to make it easy to share audio, the way YouTube did for online video: by providing free hosting, an easy-to-embed player, and by building a huge community of users and creators.

"SoundCloud, of course, wants to be that standard. Think of it as an aspiring YouTube for public radio," suggests NJL.

Boston’s WBUR and the WGBH program "The World," L.A.-based KPCC and KCRW, North Carolina’s WUNC, St. Louis Public Radio, CNN Radio, and "99% Invisible" are traditional radio outlets or productions that are now actively uploading to SoundCloud.

Read more in Nieman Journalism Lab here.

Paul Maloney
August 6, 2012 - 12:45pm

Heard of OUYA? It's the still-in-development open source video game console that's set to retail for $99 when it launches in March. And Clear Channel thinks it's so cool it's putting its iHeartRadio HTML5 app on it. Though iHeartRadio will only be available to U.S. OUYA owners, Boxer8 (OUYA's developer) says an "internationally available and equivalent partnership" (hmmm, Spotify?) is also in the works.

Clear Channel says "iHeartRadio’s HTML 5 App is a great fit for OUYA because it’s built for a large screen format and provides an intuitive and engaging audio and visual experience." It'll have all of the standard iHeartRadio features, like live radio streams and user-created Custom Stations.

The OUYA story is pretty fascinating, by the way. While video gaming in the past year seems to have shifted towards mobile devices and away from living room consoles, the OUYA Kickstarter project showed there's still an interest for console games by reaching its fundraising goal within 8 hours (and it's still raising money). Ouya holds the record for best first-day performance of any project hosted on Kickstarter. Within the first 24 hours the project reportedly attracted one backer every 5.59 seconds. Ouya is the eighth project in Kickstarter history to raise more than a million dollars, and the most-quickly-funded to reach one million dollars.

Read more from The Next Web here; Gameverse here; and Kickstarter here.