Business News Media

Clear Channel rebrands as iHeartMedia

By | Published on Wednesday 17 September 2014


I’m not sure iHeartMedia is an especially good name for a company, but then I never thought Clear Channel Communications was an especially good moniker either.

Though the latter originated in a bit radio industry jargon, while the former takes its name from the company’s dabblings in streaming audio. Which makes this rebrand of America’s biggest radio broadcasting company telling.

Clear Channel’s online platform iHeartRadio – even when you take into account the radio show aggregation that occurs under the brand, in addition to the original curated streaming music element – accounts for only a fraction of the media firm’s over-all listening hours, and probably no more than 10% of its revenues, but clearly it’s the future baby.

On the name change, Clear Channel boss man Bob Pittman is quoted by the New York Post bigging up his company’s online and iHeart-branded ventures, before concluding: “To capture all these concepts and still call [the company] the legacy name really is a disservice to what we are and what people here have built. So we’ve taken our biggest national brand, our newest brand, our most digital brand, and made that the name of the company”.

Although Clear Channel has resisted the temptation to start rebranding its traditional FM and AM stations under the iHeart identity (something UK radio firm Global probably would have done if it owned an online services as successful as iHeartRadio), the US broadcaster has not shied away from plugging its online iHeart services relentlessly via its more established channels. Meanwhile the name has been pushed beyond the net via a series of iHeart-branded events.

Being only available in the US, Australia and New Zealand, iHeartRadio is often missed out of wider debates about the streaming music sector, but, while it lags behind Pandora in the US, it has performed well in a competitive market. And it is one of the few examples of the radio sector positioning itself into a marketplace otherwise dominated by start-ups, even though – as the internet reaches the bathroom, kitchen and car dashboard – Pandora and Spotify services start to go head-to-head with traditional radio.

Clear Channel’s rebrand proves that iHeartRadio is no token-gesture initiative for the media company, though with the streaming audio market still hard to predict long-term, the broadcaster will need more than a new name to assure it is a successful player in it once things calm down.