CBS Corp. plans to sell or spin off its radio station group in the coming year, CEO Leslie Moonves said Tuesday during the company’s CBS Investor Day presentation in New York. A sale, swap or spinoff of the 117-station group is among the options being considered, Moonves said. Read more
The quick way to a consumer’s heart, more and more these days, is through their smartphone. The best route to get there is, unquestionably, through apps: Consumers spend up to 80% of their mobile usage time in apps, according to eMarketer. That’s why radio stations need to give users/listeners compelling reasons to download and visit again and again.
The mobile app category is shifting and growing fast, with radio broadcasters working overtime to attract users and serve up enticing features, from original video to dynamic advertising options. Since the bulk of that 80% of time is spent in only a handful of apps, standing out becomes paramount.
“Mobile provides so many engagement opportunities, and as radio moves into podcasting, video and social media, a full-featured app can really pull that all together,” says consultant Paul Jacobs, VP/GM for Jacobs Media. Many radio station apps are bursting with features, including streaming audio, local news and information, contests, podcasts, music information and content from popular DJs, such as blogs and video clips. But that’s where the industry consensus on apps ends. Just how radio station apps are designed—and even how they are organized—varies by groups.
At the top of the ecosystem is iHeartRadio, iHeartMedia’s massive radio aggregator app featuring live streams of its stations and other broadcasters, as well as original content, videos, podcasts and custom channels.
On a smaller scale, some radio groups have created their own aggregator apps, seeking to maximize their audience, cross-promote brands and give users and clients access to multiple properties. Aggregator apps work best for large and medium-sized groups with enough stations to populate a portal and give advertisers scale, Jacobs says. Those group-wide apps, which include Beasley Broadcasting’s iRadioNow, Scripps’ Radio League, Townsquare Media’s Radio Pup and SBS’ La Musica, are a gateway to dozens of local stations and original mobile content. The architecture of these apps is as varied as their music formats. On Radio League, users see all the group’s individual stations and can tag favorites. On Townsquare’s Radio Pup, consumers find stations by searching by market or format, and users can personalize news and weather. SBS is targeting a very specific demographic group with its LaMusica app, which launched last December. Aimed at Millennial Latinos, LaMusica allows users to access 23 million songs, build custom stations with English and Spanish songs, watch music videos and also stream local stations. The apps figure big into each company’s strategy—which will undoubtedly shift as the times and listening preferences evolve.
As mediation continues between iHeartMedia and a group of its creditors and a trial gets underway to resolve their dispute, iHeart says that the two sides have exchanged proposals to amend the terms of the company’s credit agreement and, through a series of exchange offers, its priority guarantee notes.
In an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Committee, iHeart says that, as part of the mediation talks, some of the debt holders submitted a proposal to the company on May 13. That was followed on May 15 by a counterproposal from the company.
While the mediation continues, a trial begins today in State District Court in Bexar County, Texas to determine the legality of a contested stock transfer iHeart made from one subsidiary to another last December. “The outcome of the litigation may have a substantial bearing on the outcome of these negotiations, which may be discontinued at any time by any party,” the company said in Monday’s 8-K filing. It notes that “there can be no assurance that any agreement will be reached” by iHeart and the creditors or any other of the company’s debt holders over “any or all of the issues” contained in the proposals. What’s more, the filing notes, the transactions outlined in the proposals would require an amendment to the company’s credit agreement and, through a series of exchange offers, the priority guarantee notes. The proposed transactions would also require the approval of additional debt holders who aren’t part of the negotiations, the company said.
In a statement released Monday morning, iHeart reiterated its position that the contested stock transfer “complied with our financing agreements” and that it looks forward “to the expedited trial on the merits of our case” and a ruling “that affirms our position.” The company said that the proposals from both sides “address a broader solution than what is at issue in the trial and that it has had “productive conversations over time with many of our lenders as we continue to focus on executing on our strategic plan and realize the financial benefit for all our stakeholders.”
Meanwhile, according to Reuters, iHeart has brought in Millstein & Co as an additional restructuring advisory firm, to help it evaluate options for its debt, including buying some of it back.
For hundreds of radio stations around the country, an individual app is the preferred mobile strategy. Branded with their logo and slogan, individual apps, says station consultant Paul Jacobs, VP/GM for Jacobs Media, can work well for stations with strong individual assets such as well-known hosts, local brand recognition and original content.
They’re also ideal for helping smaller broadcasters play in the same big pool. Cox Media Group, Cumulus Media, Hubbard Radio and Entercom are among major radio companies that have opted for individual apps that emphasize singular local outlets. “Listeners don’t know who Hubbard is. They don’t need to. They know the brands and that’s what’s important,” says Jeremy Sinon, Hubbard Radio’s director of Digital Strategy.
One challenge with aggregated apps from larger broadcasters is helping users find them. In many cases, a search for a station’s call letters in the App Store or Google Play store comes up blank. If stations promote their apps on-air, it helps users make that connection if it isn’t obvious. To assist its audience in finding aggregator app LaMusica, SBS heavily promotes the new app on-air, online and at its events. “This is going to be the biggest company priority, promoted in all events and platforms,” SBS digital media executive Jesus Lara said when the app launched. ”We can give this product sustained marketing support for a long period of time.”
In some cases, broadcasters are putting forward both an individual app and a group portal, as Scripps does with its powerhouse news station WTMJ Milwaukee (620). The most popular mobile solutions vendors, including Jacobs Media’s Jacapps division, Futuri Media and Clip Interactive, work with radio stations on both flavors of apps. Jacapps built Scripps’ Radio League app, while Clip Interactive architected Beasley’s latest version of iRadioNow, and will soon launch a new portal app for Entravision called Sonoditos, which will include the company’s 60 stations, popular personalities and affiliates, according to Clip Interactive executive VP/chief revenue officer, Bill Freund.
With mobile apps such an evolving space, broadcasters are experimenting with other models as well. Entravision is also creating apps for its most popular shows, including a recently launched app for the “El Show de Erazno y la Chokolata,” which garnered 100,000 downloads in its first two months. Mobile is one of Entravision’s top priorities, COO Jeff Liberman said recently, and, later this year, the company will launch mobile apps for “El Show de Piolín” and “El Show de Alex ‘El Genio’ Lucas.” “The Latino marketplace has skipped desktop in most cases, and they use tablets or mobile phones as a way of connecting,” Liberman said. “We have taken a mobile-first vision.”
In still another twist on apps, Emmis Communications created a lifestyle app, “Where Hip-Hop Lives,” featuring its talent, music and content from rhythmic CHR powerhouses “Hot 97” WQHT New York and “Power 106” KPWR Los Angeles. The app offers original video, blogs and a subscription tier with exclusive content and ad-free audio streams. The “Where Hip-Hop Lives” app could serve as a model for launching more apps, says Emmis’ national director of Digital Content, Jeffrey Thacker. “It is creating a good blueprint on how to do this with other genres as well,” Thacker said recently. “I don’t think this is unique by any capacity.”
There are numerous third-party vendors that offer well-developed streaming audio players and mobile apps, but several radio station groups have taken a more individualistic approach by building their own platforms, including audio players and mobile apps. Company execs say they’re looking for more customization and control than existing products on the market to stand out in a competitive space. Townsquare Media has its own in-house team that develops its apps and works with Triton Digital on audio playback for mobile and desktop. Greater Media designed its web streaming player for desktop and mobile web, and partners with Jacobs Media’s Jacapps on the mobile app.
At Hubbard Radio, in-house developers created a proprietary streaming audio player for all its stations’ websites and mobile apps. Hubbard’s director of Digital Strategy, Jeremy Sinon, says the company wanted a player that worked the same across mobile and web and offered flexibility on features. When Sinon’s team couldn’t find a suitable solution on the market, they set out to engineer their own. “We wanted to be able to control our own destiny,” Sinon says. “Now, we can add features and shape and mold it and be more limber with our tools because we aren’t reliant on a vendor.”
In building their player, Hubbard developers wanted to make the user experience identical on the desktop websites, mobile apps and any other device, which could include smart watches or smart TVs. Hubbard enlisted a Washington DC-based web development firm, The Web Development Group, to help with coding and Jacapps helped execute the mobile app, but the in-house team handled the bulk of the work. All of Hubbard’s stations are live with the new player and updated apps and among the new custom features are stream rewards, where a clock tracks a user’s streaming time across devices and gives prizes for time spent listening. Rewards range from small discounts, like a Subway sandwich coupon, to entries in major contests and giveaways, including vacations and concert tickets. The listening timer crosses over devices and keeps rolling. So, if a user is streaming via a mobile app during their morning commute and then tunes in via their office computer, the streaming clock counter continues uninterrupted. To access this feature, users need to register, and that provides Hubbard with valuable data it can analyze and use for ad sales.
“We get people that will stay with us longer because they want to win prizes and clients are happy because they’re getting exposures and opt-ins on their rewards,” Sinon says.
Federated Media relaunched all of its apps last year and launched a unique streaming player as well. “We have a real desire to grow the brand of the apps in our markets,” Federated Media chief strategy officer, James Derby, told Inside Radio.
Notable features in Federated’s new apps include a streaming player, geo-fencing and geo-targeting capabilities and the option to add sub-channels inside a station’s app. For example, if an artist is coming to perform in a market, the local station can create an app channel featuring their music. The same feature could be used to create a channel for an advertiser, featuring branded content. With Federated’s “My” personalization feature, registered users can skip songs and favorite artists.
With its new player now live in all of its markets, Hubbard is in early talks with other broadcasters to license the unnamed product for other radio apps and websites. It is yet another example of radio companies diversifying in the digital media marketplace. “In the future, you could see us in the software business,” Sinon says.
ABC’s search for a replacement for Michael Strahan as Kelly Ripa’s “Live” co-host has led to the door of a trio of well-known syndicated radio hosts. Both Ryan Seacrest and Mario Lopez have been mentioned as possible Strahan successors in the press. And last week Bobby Bones said on his radio show that he was considered for the job.
While all three have TV experience, co-hosting a daily talk show requires strong improvisational skills and the ability to think quick on your feet – proficiencies that are core to live radio and that many in TV lack.
Seacrest recently re-upped as host of ABC's “New Year's Rockin' Eve” for four more years and has more time on his schedule now that “American Idol” has concluded after 15 seasons. But a move to New York, where “Live” is based, would disrupt Seacrest's syndicated daily radio show which is fueled in large part by the access to stars Seacrest has from his Los Angeles base. And despite his many TV ventures, Seacrest has long kept radio a top priority.
According to a source, Bones spoke with ABC about the show a few weeks ago but the talks haven’t progressed beyond that. No stranger to TV, Bones was one of the radio personalities who guest-hosted with Ripa in January 2011 when then co-host Regis Philbin took a week off. Bones has said he’s working on a TV show. But like Seacrest, a move to New York wouldn’t mesh with his Nashville-based syndicated show.
Lopez, who launched his TV career in 1989 with the sitcom “Saved By The Bell,” did little to deflate the rumors when asked about it on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” saying that he finds talk of him potentially replacing Strahan "very flattering,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I love Kelly. I’ve guest-hosted with her a few times; she’s awesome," Lopez said. "I actually did a movie with her husband Mark, who’s a real good guy. I’m looking forward to going back and guest-hosting again."
All three are syndicated by Premiere Networks.
Others said to be in consideration are Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper with the latter said to be Ripa’s No. 1 choice. ABC will be auditioning potential replacements in the next few weeks, according to the Reporter, with a rotating group of guest hosts joining Ripa until a permanent co-host is named.
Just as April showers bring May flowers, the return of Major League Baseball brings a seasonal spike to sports radio ratings. This year is no exception. Sports’ 6+ ratings across Nielsen’s 48 PPM markets grew from a 4.2 share in March to a 4.5 share in April, according to a new report from Nielsen. The gains spanned across demos – 18-34 climbed 3.1-3.2 while adults 25-54 moved up two-tenths to hit a 5.0 share in April.
Local market reports issued last week provide numerous examples of sports stations gaining market share. Tigers baseball on “97.1 the Ticket” WXYT-FM Detroit pushed the CBS Radio station from seventh place in March back to first place among listeners 6+ in April. Longtime Cardinals flagship “News Talk 1120” KMOX St. Louis climbed from fifth place in March to second in April. And the flagship for the Baltimore Orioles, CBS Radio’s “105.7 The Fan” WJZ-FM, advanced 3.9-5.3 for its highest market since last June.
Yet sports soared higher this year than in any previous April survey in the past three years, according to Nielsen. From 2013-2016, sports has trended 4.1-220.127.116.11-4.5 in April among listeners aged 6+ and 4.6-4.8-4.8.-5.0 among 25-54 year-olds. One reason for the year-over year growth is the number of sports stations has grown. According to Inside Radio/Precision Track data, the number of commercial sports stations in the U.S. increased from 730 in April 2013 to 778 in 2014 to 799 in 2015, before dropping back to 782 in April 2016.
April was definitely spring ahead time for radio’s most popular Spanish-language format. Regional Mexican radio bounced back in Nielsen’s PPM markets, after two years of across-the-board ratings declines. Among listeners aged 6+, the format rose from a 3.2 share in April 2015 to a 3.7 this April.
That puts it back on track with the 3.7 share it had in April 2014 but just shy of the 3.9 it notched in April 2013. Regional Mexican’s year-over-year gains were slightly larger in 18-34, where it rose 4.5-5.1 since April 2015 but fell short of its marks in April 2014 (5.2) and April 2013 (5.6). Likewise, 25-54 bounced back 4.0-4.6 from April 2015, putting regional Mexican ahead of April 2014 (4.5) but still short off the 4.7 it hit three years ago.
Meanwhile, Spanish contemporary set a new April ratings record in the 25-54 demo with a 2.9 share, up from a 2.7 share last April. That marks a second consecutive year of growth in the Money Demo. Among listeners aged 6+, Spanish Contemporary’s 2.6 share is just one-tenth of a point off its all-time high of a 2.7and up for a second year in a row. The format performs best among 18-34 year-olds, where it jumped 2.7-3.1 from April 2015 to tie the April number set in 2013.
A new multi-media campaign from Allstate aims to position the insurance company as a “modern, innovative brand for the future.” The "It's good to be IN good hands” campaign will run across a range of advertising and marketing mediums, including radio, television, digital and mobile, online video, social media and print.
"We're redefining what it really means to be in good hands,” Sanjay Gupta, Allstate executive VP of Marketing, Innovation and Corporate Relations said in a release. “We're taking all the best attributes of our iconic brand and completely modernizing it with a fresh and dramatic new look and feel, provocative and fun celebrity talent, and a clear and contemporary message."
The campaign was designed by Leo Burnett Chicago, the same agency that created Allstate’s award-winning “Mayhem’s All-Time Greatest Hits Countdown” radio campaign which took over all the advertising during rush hour on multiple stations in the same city in markets across the country. That campaign discarded traditional spot lengths in favor of a top 10 countdown of Mayhem’s top hits, complete with hokey jingles and jock set-ups, customized for each market.
Humor is also part of the recipe of the new ads, which star Adam DeVine, Tim Gunn and Leslie Jones in comical situations as metaphors to convey what it really means “to be in good hands.”
Allstate was among radio’s top 100 advertisers in 2015, airing 201,579 spots on stations tracked by Media Monitors. While the company has scaled back its commercials in 2015, running 24,209 radio spots from Jan. 1 – May 12, 2016, it has also favored a more non-traditional approach such as the “countdown” concept which isn’t tracked as traditional spots.
SiriusXM Canada is going private, via a deal with U.S.-based SiriusXM Holdings Inc.—its biggest shareholder—and two of its top Canadian shareholders. The deal values Sirius XM Canada at about $367 million, according to Reuters.
Sirius XM Canada's shareholders will receive C$4.50 per share in cash or SiriusXM Holdings stock for each share they own, representing a premium of 6.4% to the stock's closing price on Thursday.
SiriusXM Holdings said it expects to pay about $275 million for the transaction, which will increase its stake in Sirius XM Canada to 70% from 37%, and give it ownership of 30% of its voting shares. Sirius XM Canada said the rest of its equity and voting stakes will be held by Canadian radio broadcaster Slaight Communications Inc. and Toronto-based private equity firm Obelysk Media.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp, the national public radio and television broadcaster, will no longer be a shareholder in Sirius XM Canada, said Jim Meyer, CEO of SiriusXM Holdings. The CBC was Sirius XM Canada's second-biggest shareholder with a 12.5% stake of as of Dec. 9, according to Thomson Reuters data. It will continue to support the company as a programming provider.
"This proposed transaction shows SiriusXM's and Sirius XM Canada's commitment to serving the Canadian market with our leading bundle of premium content, much of which will continue to be created in Canada,” said Meyer. “The existing Canada-led governance structure will be preserved while vastly improving cooperation between the two companies on next generation products and services that will ensure a healthy future for satellite radio in Canada.”
An Indiana court has ruled in favor of the on-air personality in a non-compete lawsuit filed by Cumulus Media against a former host at country “Nash-FM” WMDH-FM Muncie-Marion. Cumulus filed suit in March against Amanda Rollen and Hoosier AM/FM LLC, which operates several stations in Marion and Kokomo.
Cumulus claimed that Rollen violated a December 2012 non-compete clause that prohibited her from engaging in “essentially the same job” for any radio station within 50 miles of WMDH-FM for six months after leaving the New Castle-licensed station. The suit said Rollen left her job as an on-air personality and programming assistant at the “Nash” outlet Oct. 2, and began work for the Hoosier AM/FM stations on Oct. 20.
In its ruling, Delaware Circuit Court 4 Judge John Feick denied Cumulus’s request for an injunction to keep Rollen off the air. The judge said that Cumulus attorneys produced no evidence of any monetary losses, or an impact on ratings, as a result of Rollen’s work for the Marion and Kokomo stations.
Feick wrote that “any proposed harm perceived (by Cumulus) by Amanda Rollen operating at her current location is speculative at best.”
Jessica Banister has been selected as the new Market Manager for My Home Team Media’s Clovis, New Mexico Cluster. Jessica is originally from Clovis and most recently worked as a senior account executive for RooneyMoon Broadcasting. Read more
Bob Stei will host a nightly broadcast this summer from the Boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ on Hot AC radio station “98.7 The Coast” WCZT. Stei will also continue to host weekends on Townsquare Classic Rock “105.7 The Hawk” WCHR-FM in Ocean/Monmouth, NJ. Read more
NY Daily News columnist Mike Lupica will host The Mike Lupica Show, a weekly one-hour podcast, with Seinfeld creator Larry David as the first guest. The show, a partnership between Compass Media Networks and Hiltzik Creative, launches May 17. Read more
COMMUNITY BROADCASTERS, LLC has a great opportunity to manage a market leading 3 station cluster in St. Lawrence County, NY, located along the St. Lawrence River in the beautiful 1,000 Islands Region. View details