Infotainment systems like Toyota’s EnTune and Ford’s Sync have brought a throng of new competitors to radio while challenging the industry to adapt to a radically different in-vehicle listening experience. Predicting “hockey stick” growth, Nielsen EVP of global automotive group Ian Beavis forecasts the connected car will reach a tipping point during the 2014 and 2015 model years.
From the perspective of four small group heads, radio fundamentals look solid. Listening trends remain strong and there’s modest revenue growth. But they also have concerns about talent development and macro-economic conditions. There’s also agreement the industry needs to play more offense when coming up against digital competitors like Pandora. MORE
Forget plain old regular P1 listeners. There’s a new audience segment that’s far more valuable for throttling up your ratings. Even “heavy deep” listeners pale in comparison. Defined by DMR/Interactive president Tripp Eldredge as P1 amplifiers or influentials, the segment is a subset of “heavy deep” listeners, those who spend two-to-three times more time with radio than the average and are P1 to a specific station. MORE
One month after taking over Arbitron, Nielsen announced an average 6% sample size increase in PPM markets. Now the company says it will further increase PPM sample sizes for multicultural segments in certain markets. It may come at a price however. MORE
To Republicans on Capitol Hill it may look like the Fairness Doctrine 2.0, but Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler says the agency is just looking for data to help lower media barriers to entry for minorities, women and small businesses. “This is not an effort to influence the media,” Wheeler told a House Telecommunications Subcommittee oversight hearing yesterday. MORE
The biggest radio deal of the year has now crossed the finish line as Cumulus Media yesterday closed on a $260 million all-cash deal to buy WestwoodOne. Cumulus’ sale of 53 stations in a dozen small and mid-sized markets to Townsquare Media raised all but $22 million of the money needed to fund the deal. Cumulus Media Networks will be combined into what had formerly been known as Dial Global, with WestwoodOne the surviving brand name. MORE
Country radio saw the biggest growth of the year, but Nielsen says it was news-talk that easily remained king of the airwaves in 2013. The format captured a 9.3 share of listening among persons 6+ across the 48 markets measured by the people meter. The results may be a surprise since news-talk and sports ratings sagged during the first half of the year. But Nielsen says spoken word formats made a “big rebound” during the fall. MORE
Don’t be surprised if you start hearing promotional spots on Cumulus Media’s radio stations for Rdio. The strategic alliance announced in September has led this week to the rolling out of on-air promos. Cumulus has committed to giving Rdio $75 million worth of marketing over the next five years in exchange for a 15% stake in the company. This week also marks the launch of another element. MORE
On the job just 39 days, new FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and his fellow commissioners were on Capitol Hill yesterday, for what’s become an annual give-and-take on the biggest telecom issues. Wheeler said he’s spent most of his time so far working on TV and wireless spectrum auction issues, but one of the goals for his first 60 days is to look at reforming how the FCC functions. MORE
As the House goes on its holiday break there’s word three more members have gone on record opposing a royalty on broadcast radio. Florida Republicans Gus Bilirakis, Dennis Ross and Steve Southerland have all signed onto a House resolution that says Congress should oppose a fee on stations. That brings the total number of House members against a royalty to 184, while 12 Senators have also signed a similar pledge. The fate of the royalty bill is in doubt after sponsor Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) was confirmed this week to lead the agency overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
If Clear Channel decides to push out more of its loan due dates, there’s a strong signal from the debt markets that there’s an appetite for it. The company says it had no trouble getting lenders to extend the terms on $1.3 billion of loans back to July 2019 from January 2016. In fact, lenders wanted to swap even more — but the company had the cap in place. Clear Channel will pay higher interest rates to lenders who snap up the offer. Fitch Ratings calculates the move will cost an extra $55 million a year in interest costs.
NTR revenue has grown at a faster rate than on-air advertising this year and it’s blossomed into a segment that’s twice as big as radio’s digital revenue. Now Townsquare Media is bulking up its off-air events business with a deal to buy MAC Events. The 40-year old family-owned company produces home and garden shows in three states, including New Jersey where Townsquare owns a dozen brands. MORE