With the release of the important Spring ratings results from Arbitron, the state of the radio industry got an unusual amount of mainstream press this week.
The difference between radio's two largest and most powerful radio groups couldn't have been more apparent than the news between CBS Radio and Clear Channel. A week ago, CBS Radio announced the "headcount reducing" of 115 people, including several legendary execs from the Infinity Broadcasting days. This was viewed on the radio message board forums as more body blows against the memory of the Infinity glory days -- before Howard Stern left, before the loss of heritage stations and people.
Meanwhile, Clear Channel received a positive tech profile from USA Today with the headlined article "CEO John Hogan may be hero to Clear Channel Radio". After years of often negative news and online forum commentary -- due to its massive and very rapid growth in all segments of media and the entertainment business as well as its stand on issues like Howard Stern, it looks like Clear Channel's brand perception is improving while CBS Radio's isn't.
While this was happening, the ratings were released, with Clear Channel increasing its group market shares in New York and Los Angeles while CBS Radio decreased its share. CBS Radio's three FM stations in New York -- WFNY (Free 92.3), WNEW (Mix 102.3) and WCBS (Jack 101.1) -- combined for only a 5.0 share of the market. Clear Channel, on the other hand, had 3 of the top 5 radio station in town. In fact, their overall #1 station WLTW (Lite 106.7) pulled in a 7.0 share by itself -- something three CBS FMs couldn't top or even challenge combined.
The lone good news for CBS: the return of the Opie and Anthony virus in mornings has given them much better results in just 2 short months; however, they are still having to clean up after the David Lee Roth morning show car wreck.
Over on the competing satellite radio front, receivers for both XM and Sirius have been viewed by the FCC as non-compliant as they cause bleed-over interference with standard broadcast radio frequencies. This forced both companies to pull the problem receivers from the market for correction. Since problems with the FCC need to be filed with the SEC, this has caused a drag on stock values for both companies. Meanwhile, XM continues to battle problems with the RIAA, claiming XM's newest recordable devices can record specific songs from XM programming, leading to royality issues.
Of course, not all news was good news for radio. Nielsen Analytics released a report stating 38% of active podcast downloaders (those who've downloaded podcasts in the last 30 days; about 6% of the study's participants described themselves this way, with 75% of them male) said they are listening less often to radio broadcasts.
If you're running a male-skewed format -- especially Rock or Alternative -- you better be podcasting or you'll definitely get left behind.
Speaking of getting left behind, is radio leaving behind Madonna? For 20 years, she's been to be an automatic add for radio airplay. Her current world tour looks to be the highest grossing and most attended concert tour ever in the U.S. for a female artist, topping her own tour records. And yet radio is largely ignoring her newest pop dance album, now on its third single. Makes you wonder, if so many tickets are being sold and the album is selling (1.5 million copies sold, according to Nielsen Soundscan), why is Top 40 and Adult Contemporary radio so hung up on not playing her new songs?
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Saturday, July 22, 2006,