Local content hubs earned top rankings in January, according to comScore

Monday, March 12, 2012 - 11:35am

CBS Radio's Philadelphia web portalCBS Radio has found success with its 30 local web portals: comScore ranked them as some of the top local websites online in January. Now the broadcaster plans to take what it's learned and remake its music radio station websites.

CBS began launching local website hubs in 2010, aggregating content from local TV stations, sports radio stations and talk/news stations (RAIN coverage here; see an example portal for Philadelphia here).

"While some radio companies are doubling down on streaming or daily deals, CBS has opted for a more diversified digital business model," writes Inside Radio. "The diversification strategy is paying off."

In January, the network ranked first in Time Spent among regional local media sites, according to comScore. CBS' portals also ranked second in page views, fifth in unique visitosr and visits. "The rankings are especially noteworthy in light of the fact that CBS Local operates in just 30 markets compared to many of its competitors [AOL Patch, MSN Local, Yelp, Yahoo Local and CityGrid], which operate in as many as 150-200 markets," observes Inside Radio.

CBS says unique visitors grew 43% last year ("the fastest growth in our entire peer group," according to CEO Les Moonves). The local hubs are also generating new revenue for CBS, tapping into daily deals, online directories, ecommerce, affinity clubs, performance advertising and other services. "There are real dollars we’re going to start seeing," said Moonves.

CBS Radio's 97.1 new website

Now CBS is "taking a lot of the best practices and strategies we learned... from CBS Local Digital Media and applying them to the music business," according to CBS Local Digital Media president Ezra Kucharz. Specifically, its music radio station websites.

CBS moved its music radio stations to the Local Digital Media division in December, away from CBS Interactive Music Group. Last week CBS began rennovating its music radio station websites -- starting with CHR stations -- looking to add a unified design, social media integration, video, improved advertising and tie-ins with, Local Offers and Metro Lyrics.

Inside Radio points to 97.1 KAMP (here and pictured left) as an example of the new website design: archived video interviews, embedded Twitter feeds and easy access to either buy songs recently played on-air or build custom stations.

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Sean Ross reminds radio of the importance of brand-building to listeners faced with thousands of choices

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 12:25pm

Sean RossYesterday Cumulus and Clear Channel partnered to bring Cumulus' nearly 600 station streams to Clear Channel's iHeartRadio web radio platform -- a move that could hint at the platform's future as an aggregator (RAIN coverage here). Meanwhile, Inside Radio reports that Townsquare Media is "having conversations with other broadcasters about potential partnerships with its newly-launched [web radio platform] radioPup."

Respected industry journalist Sean Ross (pictured) applauds such moves in his column today, but warns: "aggregation is not curation."

He argues that users now need to sort through nearly 1,400 stations on iHeartRadio, for example, and the problem of picking from among "a hundred 'Kiss-FMs' or two-dozen 'Jack FMs'" is still "largely unaddressed."

Ross also suggests that national aggregation platforms are a good opportunity for broadcasters to "create unique national content...the potential of national radio is still largely untapped, and national stations are usually an un-hosted, inchoate afterthought."

Additionally, Ross points out that there's still no one-stop platform for all U.S. radio online -- especially since Clear Channel and CBS Radio started pulling their streams from aggregators like TuneIn Radio (RAIN coverage here).

iHeartRadio's growing web radio network In fact, a Clear Channel representative recently told Ross' fellow Radio-Info journalist Tom Taylor: "Our streams are secure and are only available in our player. If content aggregators bundled our radio stations, we would have no control over how our content and stations are presented -- so we couldn't necessarily provide listeners with the kind of premium experience we want to, and that they expect."

Ross disagrees with that position. "I’m still in favor of station streams being available in as many places as possible...Even after the Cumulus/Clear Channel deal, we’re still not close to having every radio station on one broadcaster’s platform, and I wouldn’t begrudge that convenience to any consumer who really wants it."

For a consumer to stream stations from CBS Radio, Clear Channel and Emmis on his or her iPhone -- for example -- he or she would currently need to download at least three different apps: the app from CBS Radio, the iHeartRadio app from Clear Channel, and the TuneIn Radio app (or another aggregation app, or an individual station app) to listen to Emmis. And that's assuming the consumer even knows the stations are owned by CBS Radio, Clear Channel and Emmis.

You can find Sean Ross' full article on Radio-Info here.

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