Clear Channel

Triton Digital releases April Internet radio ratings

Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 12:05pm

Industry leading webcaster Pandora saw its April Average Active Sessions (the online radio equivalent of Average Quarter Hour) fall 7% March to April, in the first full month of its 40-hour/month cap on free mobile listening. Meanwhile, most of the top streaming broadcast groups saw double-digit AAS growth in April.

Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics Top 20 rankers for April were released yesterday.

While Pandora's listening was down a bit, broadcast groups like Clear Channel, Cumulus, and CBS Radio all enjoyed 11%-13% AAS bumps in April. Clear Channel (which has the iHeartRadio online radio platform) is up 42% over the past twelve months, and up 21% in 2013 alone. Only Cox among the top broadcast streamers was down in April, 12%. While Cox's AAS is down 10% so far this year, it's still grown 21% since April 2012. Note that Cox recently sold several clusters in markets like Birmingham, Richmond, south Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisville, and Greenville -- and this ratings period reflects the loss of that listening.

Internet radio pureplay Slacker continues its streak, up another 11% in April (and 40% in 2013). And the online-only webcaster idobi, which seemingly came out of nowhere in November to join the ranks of the top pureplays in Webcast Metrics, also got a 10% AAS bump in April.

These numbers, by the way, all come from the 6a-12a, Monday through Sunday "Domestic" ranking (see the chart below). A former top pureplay in that ranking, Digitally Imported, is now the top pureplay and second only to Clear Channel on the "All Streams" ranker (which takes non-U.S. listening into account). (Note that Pandora is not a part of this ranking.)

Pandora instituted its listening cap to temper its sound recording royalty expenditure. Since advertisers aren't paying as much for mobile ad impressions, the webcaster monetizes ad-supported mobile listening at a significantly lower rate than on desktop computers. Listeners who hit the cap can pay 99-cents to listen for the rest of the month, or purchase the Pandora One subscription to listen commercial-free (about $36 a year).

Apparently, a good number of listeners are doing exactly this. Pandora added more than 700-thousand new subscribers to its Pandora One service in its first quarter this year, up 114% to more than two-and-a-half million (and more net new subscribers in the quarter than in all of fiscal 2013) (see RAIN here). Pandora now also has the top-grossing "non-game" app in Apple's App Store (more here).

You can see Triton Digital's full April 2013 Webcast Metrics Top 20 rankers here. RAIN's coverage of the March 2013 ratings is here.

Americans still want their computers, even over smartphones and TV, says CC study

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 12:45pm

New research from Vision Critical for Clear Channel suggests that while Americans love and use their smartphones more and more, we haven't yet let go of computers. Respondents to the study indicated they'd rather keep their computer and give up their TV, smartphone, and tablet if they could only use one device for a year.

Perhaps also surprising was the finding that women are actually more likely than men to own smartphones and tablets: 52% of women have smartphones compared to just 43% of men, while 31% of women have a tablet or e-reader versus 25% of men.

The study also found that over 70% of those who stream live radio on their smartphones have streamed a live radio station from a different locale than where they live. 59% of respondents have been online while listening to music, and even 25% of respondents watch TV and listen to music at the same time. Finally, 59% say they use music rather than TV (39%) when they are "looking to change their mood."

The online survey was conducted by Vision Critical May 17-18, 2013 among 1,008 Americans ages 18 and over, in association with Clear Channel Media & Entertainment.

iHeartRadio tops 30 million registered users since launch

Monday, May 13, 2013 - 10:55am

Clear Channel says it's topped 30 million registered users of its iHeartRadio webcasting platform, hitting the milestone in under two years since launch. The company says that makes iHeartRadio second only to Instagram as the fastest-growing digital service in Internet history.

While listeners can tune in to iHeartRadio broadcast streams without registering, registration is also free and not all accounts are actively used. This makes the "30 million" number a poor indicator of the service's reach.

Clear Channel says the iHeartRadio mobile app has been downloaded 175 million times, and more than 60 million monthly unique users come to the service across its digital network.

Clear Channel files patent for process to substitute songs in streams

Friday, May 10, 2013 - 12:45pm

New Clear Channel-developed technology would allow stations to substitute songs in streams with other tunes -- even of different lengths.

The company has filed an application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that describes the process as using a "variable buffer delay" to handle differing song lengths, allowing the stream to resume the original progamming "downstreams," as it were. explains, "content for one broadcast station may include songs or advertisements pertinent to one audience but not for the audience of another broadcast station. Another scenario finds content in a transmission from one radio station may content undesirable for the diverse audiences of the radio stations carrying the transmission."

Tom Taylor Now (which is how we learned of this story) today conjures up a good example: "It could also be applied to syndicated shows which service multiple formats - like the John Boy & Billy show, which clear on both country and rock stations."

You can read the Billboard coverage here; Tom Taylor now here; and the patent application here.

Digital Music News reports CC rumored to be paying small label partners "1% of revenue" as on-air royalty

Monday, May 6, 2013 - 1:00pm

Digital Music News today revisits the topic of radio broadcast groups forging licensing deals with small record companies that effectively discount streaming fees for a small revenue share for on-air play.

Clear Channel is the largest radio operator engaged in these deals, with label groups like Big Machine, Glassnote, and more. Other broadcasters with similar deals include Entercom and Beasley.

While the terms of these deals aren't public, Digital Music News writes, "In return for getting royalties for airplay, rumoured to be around 1% of revenue, the labels agree to bypass SoundExchange and so cut their online royalty rates to what's rumoured to be around 3% of revenue." [Most AM/FM radio stations pay nothing to use sound recordings on-air. This year most broadcasters will pay $0.0022 per song, per listener for songs streamed online. See more in our royalties round-up under "Commercial Broadcasters" here.]

If it's true radio sees the end of free broadcast use of sound recordings coming, broadcasters might be trying to stay ahead of government regulators by voluntarily entering deals, rather than waiting for the Copyright Royalty Board to set a less favorable rate (see "Internet radio"), as the article suggests.

"The reason (Clear Channel would agree to these terms) must be to drive down the overall royalty rates it has to pay," Digital Music News reasons.

After the news source gets its customary digs against Pandora and Clear Channel in, it points out that while these deals do give recording copyright owners (labels) a bit of a royalty for on-air play (for which they're legally entitled to nothing under current U.S. law), they may not be ideal for performers. For one, there's no guarantee of a consistent rate from deal-to-deal.

And record companies have an extra incentive to forge these agreements: unlike SoundExchange payments, labels aren't legally required to share them with performers.

Industry legal expert David Oxenford has some excellent analysis of these deals in Broadcast Law Blog here.

Read more in Digital Music News here.

iHeartRadio total listening hours in first quarter up 31% over last year

Friday, May 3, 2013 - 11:50am

Clear Channel's iHeartRadio reached 29 million registered users in the first quarter, more than half of whom were on mobile devices like smartphones or tablets.

Mobile listening accounted for 55% of the service's total listening hours during the first quarter, which were up 31% year-over-year, the company revealed in yesterday's 2013Q1 earnings report.

Competitor Pandora says more than 75% of its listening is now on mobile devices (see The New York Times here). And though Pandora says its mobile revenue is now growing faster than its mobile audience (see RAIN here), the webcaster recently capped mobile listening at 40 hours a month for users of the free, ad-supported streaming (more here).

There's more on Clear Channel's Q1 earnings here.

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