Greater Media

For Smyth, technology-driven change "is the real definition of our competitive landscape"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 12:30pm

Greater Media chairman and CEO Peter Smyth has long been known as one of the more forward thinking group heads, embracing new media technology and looking beyond the traditional modes and methods of the radio business. Yesterday he answered some of his colleagues' reluctance to to make a real commitment to streaming.

Putting it in terms of the "short game" versus "long game," Smyth acknowleged that online streaming is not yet where it needs to be for broadcasters looking to shore up every cost and squeeze every penny of revenue out of their assets. But streaming's low revenue and technological imperfections are merely today's "growing pains" through which the industry will need to persevere.

Greater Media owns more than 20 stations total in the markets of Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, New Jersey, Philadelphia -- as well as several weekly newspapers in New Jersey.

Smyth insists his company's dedication to streaming, ad-insertion, and an expanding online presence isn't the easy road, but it's the right one: "There is a greater goal to be attained and that is to keep our local brands viable and relevant to rapidly changing audience habits," he wrote.

"We no longer have the luxury of regulated competition within a defined piece of real estate; we have to make every effort to entertain and deliver to advertisers as many highly targeted listeners as possible, wherever we can acquire them," he continued. "Platforms, geography, delivery, media-buying and media usage are all changing and we have to keep pace. This is the real definition of our competitive landscape."

Read Smyth's "From the Corner Office" column here.

SoundExchange opens audits on Cumulus, Saga streaming music use

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 10:50am

SoundExchange, the recording industry body that administers royalties for digital uses of copyright sound recording (like webcasting and satellite radio) has reportedly begun auditing broadcast groups Cumulus Media and Saga Communications.

Broadcasters aren't mandated to pay royalties for their "on-air" use of sound recordings, but do become SoundExchange customers when they stream.

Inside Radio reports SoundExchange is "policing station logs to ensure broadcasters are paying what they should in streaming royalties," and that Beasley and Greater Media have already been under SoundExchange's microscope. SoundExchange will need to pay for the audits unless they find a licensee underpaying by 10% or more.

Industry groups that administer composition and publishing rights, ASCAP, BMI, and Sesac, conduct similar audits.

Inside Radio says SoundExchange is using an outside firm to conduct the audits. Read more here.

jacAPPS says new deal with Ford will make sure b'dcasters don't get shut out of digital dashboard

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 12:10pm

The 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) runs today through Friday in Las Vegas, and we already have a torrent of announcements to report regarding in-car Internet radio.

The first is Ford Motor Company has named jacAPPS, the mobile app development division of radio consulting firm Jacobs Media, a "recommended mobile app development house" for its new Ford Developer Program. This means jacAPPS will develop, as well as work with other third-party developers, to create voice-activated smartphone apps for radio to work with Ford's SYNC AppLink.

The AppLink allows a driver to control digital apps from the steering wheel or using radio buttons. And while the audio entertainment available in such systems so far has been dominated by newer, digital services or apps that aggregate content, the new partnership "will allow AM/FM stations to have parity on the vehicle’s digital screen," says jacAPPS.

"Individual radio stations no longer have to be concerned about their place on the dashboards of 'connected cars' based on jacAPPS experience," read the jacAPPS announcement. "Beginning today, owners of Ford SYNC AppLink enabled vehicles will be able to access local radio station apps thanks to jacAPPS’ extensive experience working in radio to create mobile apps providing streaming capability and on-demand content services."

The company named broadcaster Greater Media its radio partner for the announcement. Sixteen of its station apps are now available with SYNC AppLink functionality.

Revamped iHeartRadio site includes tweaked player, hopes to make it easier for users to find their stations

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 9:00am

The new iHeartRadio designClear Channel has redesigned its web radio platform iHeartRadio as it adds hundreds of new station streams from Greater Media and (soon) Cumulus. The redesign aims to help users start listening to their station streams faster and make iHeartRadio's offerings clearer. (Find RAIN's coverage of iHeartRadio's redesign announcement last week here).

For example, the previous site's five navigation options have been simplified into just "Find" and "Create." Indeed, the site as a whole seems to divide itself into those two clear categories. The former refers to the service's AM/FM streams, with "Top Stations Near You," "Featured Stations" and the option to browse by genre or search for stations. "Create" of course refers to iHeartRadio's artist- and song-based Custom Radio stations. Clear Channel says the AM/FM streams make up the majority of listening on iHeartRadio.

The new iHeartRadio homepage also features a selection of the user's previously-listened-to stations, helping move the listener to his or her favorite stations as quickly as possible. The player has been redesigned to be more compact, while the "Discovery Tuner" now lists a sampling of the artists the user will hear with each setting ("Familiar," "mixed" and "less familiar").

The site also now includes streams from Greater Media's 22 stations, with an addition 570 stations from Cumulus Media to be added "in a series of batches" soon, Inside Radio reports. Greater Media announced it would add its streams to iHeartRadio in January (RAIN coverage here), while Cumulus announced the same in December (more here).

Clear Channel says iHeartRadio should display station streams to users "based on their Arbitron cume rank, regardless of station ownership," writes Inside Radio. "That means a user accessing the digital radio platform from Philadelphia will see Greater Media’s classic rock WMGK (102.9) and active rock WMMR (93.3) displayed under the 'Stations Near Philadelphia' banner, alongside Clear Channel O&Os like CHR 'Q102' WIOQ and alternative 'Radio 104.5' WRFF." iHeartRadio also includes station streams from Univision, EMF, various college stations and, of course, Clear Channel.

Clear Channel may be hoping to add streams from other broadcast groups as well. "We're certainly open to other discussions with other partners," said Clear Channel president of Digital Brian Lakamp. Inside Radio reports that Clear Channel may have even "softened" on its requirement that partners offer their streams exclusively via iHeartRadio. Lakamp says exclusivity is "not a requirement."

That requirement worried some broadcasters, while analysts pondered if such a deal would be damaging to the partner (RAIN coverage here and here). "Content creators should work with every distribution platform they can to give listeners access in as many ways as they want it," wrote Jennifer Lane in Audio4Cast.

You can try the new iHeartRadio design for yourself here and subscribe to Inside Radio here.

Stations report listeners getting more comfortable with "time-shifting" content

Friday, April 6, 2012 - 1:05pm

WEEI's on-demand content browserRadio listeners increasingly want to consume media on their own schedule. Inside Radio reports today on several radio stations that are offering on-demand, "time-shifted" content -- and finding success.

Entercom Boston sports station WEEI, for example, has seen a 20% growth in on-demand audio consumption compared to last year. The station generates an average of 450,000 on-demand audio plays per month and around 550,000 podcast downloads.

Meanwhile, podcasts of the "Preston & Steve" morning show on Greater Media's WMMR in Philadelphia are downloaded more than 500,000 times per month. PD Bill Weston tells Inside Radio that over half of the downloads aren't by regular subscribers. "There are a lot of people that are getting it piecemeal, they go on and find it and pull it in because they missed a day," he said.

And just yesterday ESPN Radio announced its website had seen its "best month" yet in March, with on-demand listening to through the ESPN Audio NOW Player up 511% over March 2011 (RAIN coverage here).

All this time-shifted listening will increase radio consumption overall, argues enterpeneur Michael Roberston. His service acts like a TiVo for radio programs (RAIN coverage here). And he tells Inside Radio the service now has 50,000 active users. But to see the increase in consumption, "radio measurement has to change, just like TV measurement has," Robertson said. 

Roberston will be a panelist at the upcoming RAIN Summit West 2012 conference in Las Vegas. He'll speak on the topic of "The Streaming Music Landscape," alongside Brendan Benzing of Rhapsody, Paul Campbell of Amazing Radio, Jamie Purpora of TuneCore and moderator Ted Cohen of TAG Strategic. Find out more here

You can subscribe to Inside Radio's daily newsletters here.

Exclusivity, promotion requirements and a fear of "getting lost in the shuffle" keeping some away from CC's web radio platform

Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 11:00am

iHeartRadio's websiteAs a broadcaster, is joining iHeartRadio a smart move? That's the question that, for the past few weeks, broadcasters, analysts and publications have debated (RAIN coverage here and here).

Recently Inside Radio spoke to several broadcasters -- both those who have joined Clear Channel's streaming platform and others who have taken "a wait-and-see stance" -- to see what they think.

"You’re giving away a lot," said one broadcaster, worried about iHeartRadio's exclusivity requirement. "It’s just not the way our world works today," said another.

“It would limit all of the in-home and in-TV scenarios that could open up as we move down the road."

Earlier this month, Carleton College's radio station declined an offer to join iHeartRadio because it would mean the college would have to pull its streams from other aggregators, like TuneIn (more here).

Broadcasters debate iHeartRadio's valueInside Radio reports that Univision Radio and Educational Media Foundation removed their streams from aggregator TuneIn following their partnership with iHeartRadio, while Cumulus and Greater Media will soon also not be available on TuneIn. However, WNYC's deal is not exclusive.

Other broadcasters "object to what [they] consider a 'significant' amount of on-air promotion," required by Clear Channel. There's also the problem that faces any aggregator: "getting lost in the shuffle of hundreds of stations with names that don’t mean anything to non-local listeners."

Indeed, one iHeartRadio partner told Inside Radio: “I don’t think anybody has yet figured out a real consumer-friendly way of organizing the incredible multiplicity of streamed audio that’s out there."

Inside RadioHowever, other broadcasters who have added their stations to iHeartRadio (not surprisingly) defended the platform: "Clear Channel won," said one. "They’ve got the platform, and you need such massive scale to be the incumbent application on devices and in autos that it could have only been done by them or CBS Radio.”

Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey agrees. "To have a prominent position in the user interface in cars and devices, critical mass is essential. That’s what aligning behind one strong app will enable broadcasters to do.”

You can subscribe for Inside Radio's daily newsletters right here.

As always, we want to know what you think! Is joining iHeartRadio a good idea? Share your thoughts by commenting on this story below.

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