iHeartMedia is realigning its business operations by creating two new segments. The media company says it is making the adjustments to better reflect its increased focus on digital and improve visibility into the underlying performances of each segment.
The Mutliplatform Group will include the company’s 860 broadcast radio stations, Premiere Networks and its virtual and live events business. This group accounts for 75 percent of iHeartMedia’s revenue. Greg Ashlock will be its CEO.
The new Digital Audio Group includes podcasting and the company’s digital sites, digital services and digital advertising technology companies, including its pending acquisition Triton Digital. Conal Byrne becomes this group’s CEO.
“The company expects the Digital Audio Group will continue to grow as an increasing proportion of its business in the future,” it stated in its announcement, though it said the Multiplatform Group “remains the foundation business that has been at the heart of the company’s success, playing an important role in building its successful digital and podcasting businesses.
[Related: “For Radio, Audio Is the New Now”]
The divisions will report their financials separately and be run by different management groups, according to an iHeartMedia press release. Both segments will report to Bob Pittman, iHeartMedia chairman and CEO.
A separate Audio & Media Services segment includes Katz Media Group and software provider RCS.Continued shift
“iHeartMedia is positioned to benefit in the continued shift of the broadcast and digital advertising marketplaces to data infused electronic platforms,” Pittman said during an earnings call Thursday.
The company reported fourth quarter 2020 revenue of $936 million on Thursday, a decline of 8.8% from a year earlier. It says it quarterly revenue deficits are narrowing as skittish advertisers return and the COVID-19 pandemic eases in parts of the United States. iHeartMedia previously reported a drop of 22% in revenue for Q3 2020 year-to-year.
iHeartMedia’s broadcast specific revenue was down 19% in Q4 2020 and down 26% excluding political, according to the financial report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company reported significant political advertising, totaling $168 million for the year, its best year on record. Digital continues to standout for iHeartMedia, according to Pittman. Growth in digital the final quarter of 2020 was 53% year over year, according to the company’s filing with the report.
For the year, the pandemic caused a significant decline in revenue of nearly 20% compared to 2019. Total revenue was $2.9 billion in 2020 compared to nearly $3.7 billion in annual results the year prior.
Pittman said the company hopes to return to 2019 revenue levels by the end of this year but a lot depends on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines and the return of more advertisers.
Corporate expenses decreased 23.8% in 2020 compared to the year prior, according to the iHeartMedia SEC filing, resulting from cost reduction initiatives that resulted in lower employee compensation. In addition, the company’s modernization efforts delivered $50 million of in-year savings in 2020.
“The total operating expense savings resulting from our modernization initiatives and the operating cost savings initiatives that were developed in response to the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic generated approximately $250 million of cost reductions in 2020,” according to the financial statement.COVID-19 takes its share
Pittman on Thursday’s earnings call said: “Like every ad supported business we were hit by the pandemic. We responded quickly to the downturn and used this to speed up our adoption of new technologies and best practices while making lasting changes to our company’s operating structure.”
The company said it will continue to centralize resources into what it calls Centers of Excellence.
The company’s capital expenditures for the year 2020 were $85.2 million compared to $112.2 million in 2019. Those capital expenditures last year consisted primarily of investments in its programmatic platforms and IT software and infrastructure, according to the company’s SEC filing.
The company is more optimistic about spending as it projects cap ex of $165 million to $185 million in 2021.
iHeartMedia’s fourth quarter results fell in line with most of the mega radio group owners in this country. Entercom reported earlier this week its 2020 revenues in the quarter fell 23 percent year-to-year. Cumulus Media fared a bit better reporting fourth quarter revenues in 2020 declined 13.1 percent compared to a year earlier.
iHeartMedia President/COO/CFO Rich Bressler said during Thursday earnings call the company projects “its first quarter 2021 revenue will be down 11 to 13 percent when compared to the year prior.”
The biggest commercial radio operator in the United States — which has been acquiring audio technology companies in the past couple of years and just announced the planned purchase of audio measurement company Triton Digital for $230 million in February — failed to make a significant dent in its overall debt in the quarter, according to the SEC filing.
As of Dec. 31, 2020, the company had just over $6 billion in total debt, virtually unchanged from the end of September.Honeycomb investment
Also in February, Honeycomb Investments Ltd., an investment vehicle funded by Global Radio investor Michael Tabor, announced it had taken an 8.8% share in iHeartMedia, according to SEC filings. Honeycomb’s investors own Global, the largest radio and outdoor advertising company in the UK.
The investment totaled $117.6 million, according to several reports. Just last year the FCC gave approval to iHeartMedia’s petition to increase its foreign ownership beyond the 25% limit.
In its 10K annual report to the SEC filed Thursday, iHeartMedia said: “Honeycomb filed a Schedule 13D with the SEC reporting ownership of more than 5% of our voting stock and equity. Honeycomb acquired its interest without our knowledge or control, and we are fulfilling our obligations under the Declaratory Ruling and the FCC rules with respect to Honeycomb’s interest.”
United States recorded music revenues grew 9.2% in 2020 to $12.2 billion at estimated retail value.
It marks the fifth consecutive year of growth for the industry, as paid subscription services continued to be the primary driver of revenue increases, and reached a record number of subscriptions.
Streaming music’s share of total revenues grew to 83%.
Covid-19 affected the industry significantly through tour cancellations, retail store closures, and other disruptions.
Revenues from recorded music measured at wholesale value grew 8.9% to $8.0 billion.
The latest report from Nielsen offers new insights into podcast listening trends — particularly when it comes to tune-in trends and category ad spending among diverse audiences.
Study after study has found that after a decade of audience growth, podcasts have become an appealing and reliable advertising platform. With more than 1.7 million podcast titles available for listeners to choose from as of the beginning of 2021, podcasts are boasting a track record of strong listener engagement — offering advertisers a means of more personalized connection, the Nielsen report said.
Specifically, the February 2021 Nielsen report found that podcast advertising — and notably, those podcast ads delivered by the podcast host — were driving stronger brand recall punch than more traditional forms of advertisements. A series of podcast effectiveness studies by Nielsen has found that host-read ads drive a brand recall rate of 71%, a scenario that subsequently creates high levels of consumer interest, purchase intent and recommendation intent.
The result is an estimated ad spend that is expected to eclipse $1 billion this year, the report said.
The growth seen from podcasts is good news to everyone — consumers, content creators and advertisers, Nielsen said — but as the podcast landscape broadens, “content creators and advertisers will be increasingly tasked with ensuring that their programs and messages align with who’s listening,” the Nielsen report said. “And when we look at audience trends, creators and advertisers should be focused on where the growth is.”
Specifically, the report notes that Hispanic and Black listeners are leaders in podcast consumption. Black consumers are more likely to take action such as visiting a retail location for more information as a result of listening to a podcast, the report said, compared to 8% of all podcast listeners. Hispanic listeners, on the other hand, have gravitated to podcasts more than any other, as the reach among this group increased from 1.1 million in 2010 to 6.8 million in 2019. That represents a growth rate of more than six times.
In addition, the report details that podcasting is also managing to withstand the effects of COVID-19. While the pandemic has altered traditional audio listening habits, when U.S. consumers were forced into lockdown, commuting to work decreased and audio consumption dropped. As the year progressed however, audio use — including podcasts — rebounded as consumers modified their media habits in the wake of life changes brought on by COVID-19.
The new Nielsen report also suggests that podcasting is ideal for brands looking to engage the right consumers with a well-tailored message as opposed to simply casting a big net and hoping for the best. “As the base of podcast listeners rapidly expands, those well-tailored messages depend on having a full understanding of who’s listening and to what,” the report said.
The report also tracks listening by age group, listening location, time of day, median age, median household income and gender breakdown.
The post New Report Reveals Podcast Trends Among Diverse Audiences appeared first on Radio World.
Bauer Media Audio said it plans to acquire Communicorp Group, pending regulatory approval.
“Through this transaction Bauer Media Audio enters the Republic of Ireland and extends its audio business to eight countries, further developing its position as Europe’s leading commercial radio operator with more than 55 million weekly listeners,” the organization stated in the announcement.
It said Communicorp is Ireland’s largest commercial radio group with a weekly audience of 1.75 million.
“The group comprises of Ireland’s only two national commercial radio stations Today FM and Newstalk, alongside local stations Spin 1038 and 98FM in Dublin, and Spin Southwest in Limerick, as well as leading digital radio sport station Off The Ball, digital audio exchange audioXI and aggregated listening platform GoLoud.”
The announcement was made by Paul Keenan, president of Bauer Media Audio, and Communicorp Chairperson Lucy Gaffney.
The Irish Times reports the sale is “understood to be for more than 100 million Euros.” It quoted Communicorp’s billionaire owner Denis O’Brien saying his decision was influenced by changing listening habits of consumers.
But in the announcement, Paul Keenan cited radio’s popularity in Ireland and said. Communicorp’s radio stations “are reaching record listening highs.”
Bauer Media Audio has broadcast radio, online services and podcasts also serving the UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Poland and Slovakia. Its brands include KISS, Mix Megapol, Absolute Radio, Radio Norge, Radio Expres, Radio Nova, Radio 100 and RMF.
Of the major publicly traded audio media companies operating in the U.S., Entercom Communications, iHeartMedia and Beasley Media Group have each reported their fourth quarter earnings. Saga Communications will offer its results on March 12.
Where is Townsquare Media? The results, which are expected to be positive, are still forthcoming and due the week of March 15.
While the company’s top executives will be participating in upcoming investor conferences, a top Wall Street blog believes the company’s shares are nearly half of their intrinsic value estimates.
The Federal Communications Commission has issued a reminder that anyone involved in the change of ownership of a wireless communication tower must follow a certain notification process.
“This reminder is necessary because of inconsistent compliance with this process, and it reflects the importance of maintaining accurate records in the FCC’s Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) System, which functions to protect aircraft navigation safety,” it stated.
In February of 2019 the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau put out a notice announcing that the FCC was revising its ASR System with a new process for reporting changes in ownership of towers and other structures registered in the system. It made changes to FCC Form 854, Antenna Structure Registration, and the commission’s ASR website at that time.
“The ownership change application procedure is a two-step process that requires both the assignor (current owner of record) and the assignee (new owner of record) to take several steps,” the FCC now reminds us.
Those steps are to log into ASR, complete their respective portions of the application, and provide the signature of an authorized person.
“In the time since these changes were enacted, there have been a number of instances where ownership changes were not properly completed because one of the parties failed to complete the process. These failures made it difficult to identify the owner responsible for compliance with our Part 17 rules, led to complications in subsequent transfers, and resulted in other administrative inefficiencies.”
Part 17 of the rules covers construction, marking, and lighting of antenna structures.
The commission is reminding all parties to transfers of ownership of registered towers that they must comply with the process in the Ownership Change Public Notice.
“Further, we recommend that parties complete the change of ownership in ASR as part of the sales transaction, rather than leaving the ASR ownership change to be completed at a later date. If the ownership change application process is not properly completed by both parties, the ASR system will identify the wrong entity as the owner, which may result in the wrong entity being held responsible for a tower it no longer holds and may slow down future transfers of ownership for current owners. It could also impact aviation safety by preventing or delaying lighting outage reports from reaching tower owners and thus delay subsequent FAA notification and repairs.”
It noted that its Licensing Support Hotline is available on weekday business hours to help with the online application process at (877) 480-3201 option 2; TTY (717) 338-2824.
The pandemic has changed some priorities in the global audio business, according to IABM.
In its latest “Audio Sector” report, the association writes that pandemic lockdowns have had “significant and sometimes surprising” effects in audio, which it calls an “important, but sometimes unheralded” sector of broadcast and media.
- COVID-19 “has led to a realization of the importance of audio quality, as disruptions hit production standards.”
- The pandemic has “incentivized consumers to increasingly stream audio-only content,” prompting growth in areas such as podcasting.
- From a technology perspective, “audio virtualization and remote production deployments have accelerated out of necessity, while other trends such as immersive audio have slowed down.”
- Some audio business drivers such as the move to easy-to-use products have accelerated.
- Demand in live sectors such as music and theater has plummeted “while other buyers such as streaming, smaller audio content creators and some adjacent markets have increased investment.”
- The audio supply chain has been hit by the cancellations of events and productions more than it has been helped from new waves of spending from remote working, production, streaming and small audio producers.
- And “some audio technology suppliers have pivoted to cater to the needs of new segments, as well as to accommodate the health and safety requirements of the pandemic in some sectors.”
IABM quoted its Head of Knowledge Lorenzo Zanni saying that while live events took a back seat, and stay-at-home viewers accepted lower-quality video, “the importance of high-quality audio really came to the fore.”
He said the pandemic also saw a “huge increase in the streaming of audio-only content, particularly podcasts and audio books, particularly among younger audiences.”
Broadcasters invented whole new workflows when COVID-19 sliced through the industry.
But almost a year later, Radio World now looks ahead — to ask what our industry’s new normal for remote audio will be, and how future workflows and infrastructure designs might be different because of the pandemic experience.
Find out what we learned from broadcasters like New York Public Radio, Saga Communications, Gimme Radio, the University of Southern Colorado, Los 40 Principales Granada, Relevant Radio and Silver Lake Audio.
And learn what manufacturers such as AEQ, Comrex, ENCO Systems, Lawo, Prodys, RCS, Telos Alliance, Tieline and Wheatstone are doing to support these new workflows.
RBR+TVBR RELATED READS:Entercom Head Touts DEI Task Force Work, and Urban League Plan Adam Jacobson Entercom Communications President/CEO David Field has taken time out to take pride in the company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force. As he noted in an internal memo, the audio media company “has been hard at work this summer” developing action plans — and with “a big assist” from employees who provided input. Entercom Adds UWG Head To Its Board of Directors RBR-TVBR She currently serves as the Chair and Chief Executive Officer of UWG, a multicultural advertising and marketing agency. Now, she’s also a member of Entercom’s Board of Directors, expanding it to 11 directors.
It is exiting the digital audio business, as it is spinning Triton to iHeartMedia following the divestment of its radio properties, “with fantastic returns.”
It boasts “a powerful new national network business” thanks to its blockbuster merger with Ion Media.
This is the new path The E.W. Scripps Co. is speedily traveling forward on, and Scripps President/CEO Adam Symson says the transformation of the company makes it “exceptionally positioned for the growth of television.”
With that, Scripps released its Q4 and year-end 2020 results. How did Scripps do?
Aside from former FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, there may be few people outside of Kansas familiar with the town of Ulysses. It’s to the northwest of Liberal, southwest of Garden City, and a 300-mile drive from construction-cluttered Denver International Airport.
Here, a group of eight radio stations are heading to a new licensee.
Why? The current operator defaulted on payments owed to the entity getting the octet.
Dan Gunter is principal of Alabama Broadcast Services LLC, a contract engineering firm headquartered in LaFayette, Ala. He saw a presentation that I did for the Alabama Broadcasters Association’s Engineering Academy in which I discussed infrared cameras made by FLIR.Fig.1: The FLIR One Pro, bottom, is a thermal camera for smartphones.
Last year, Dan bought a model that plugs into his smartphone. He says it has more than paid for itself. (The FLIR One Pro costs about $400.)
Here’s what Dan wanted to share with Workbench readers. He was at a client site to check a Harris SX-5A AM transmitter that had repeatedly blown the silver-mica capacitor in the output third harmonic filter section. Those cost about $800 apiece.
Dan got the FLIR camera ready so he could quickly shut down the SX-5A, open the rear door and grab an IR temperature reading to see how hot the capacitor was getting. He attached the infrared camera to his phone and activated the app so he was seeing real-time IR imaging.
But in getting ready to inspect that transmitter, Dan happened to sweep the camera over the rear door of another rig, a BE AM5E, and discovered a potentially serious problem there. He saw a “hot spot” in the image indicating much higher temperatures at one of the twin cooling fans at the bottom of the BE transmitter’s rear door.
Measured with the FLIR One Pro, with a measurement “box” as defined in the FLIR PC software (Fig. 2), he saw that the cabinet over the blown fan was as hot as 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit, while the temperature was only 76.6 degrees in the area of the working fan.Fig. 2: The back of the BE5E transmitter. Note the uneven color between the left and right fan grills.
Because these fans are behind a metallic filter in a recessed area of the door, they’re normally out of sight. And you would not see them in operation if you opened the rear door of the transmitter’s cabinet because, for obvious reasons, the transmitter must be powered down first (or the interlocks will shut it down for you).
Dan notes that this AM5E had a history of repeatedly blowing PA modules. The latest suffered a major burnout that charred the components beyond recognition on about a third of the circuit board, even melting the casing off a relay. That repair cost around $1,500.
So Dan began to investigate. He discovered that the “hot” fan was not running. In fact, he had to take a hammer and reshape the perforated metal portion of the door where the fan mounts, because it was pressing against the center of the rotating fan blade/spindle. This had apparently caused the fan to burn out. In looking at Fig. 3, the suspect fan is to the left, just above the copper strap.Fig. 3: The left-hand fan was not working; Dan replaced it.
Before and after replacing the burned-out fan, Dan used the FLIR camera to measure the temperature of the transmitter’s cabinet. By replacing the fan, he decreased the temperature of the cabinet by around 15 degrees Fahrenheit in the areas adjacent to and above the PA modules. Dan suspects that the actual temperature of the PA modules and of the area inside the transmitter dropped by that much and more.
When he places his hand on the transmitter cabinet, it now feels to be at or very close to room temperature instead of noticeably warmer than ambient room air. The temperatures were notably different after replacement of the fan and resolving the fan motor binding issue, as seen in Fig. 4.Fig. 4: FLIR imaging shows both fans are cooling properly.
All this to say that Dan now makes it a habit to “scan” his transmitters, especially in the areas of air exhaust, intake and fans in order to spot problems such as blown fans or blocked air flow.
In the case of transmitters and transmitter rooms with lots of noise (I bet you’ve never encountered such a problem!), IR imaging can catch a lot of things that would otherwise be almost undetectable until the transmitter goes down.
We’ll tell you next time how his repair to the first transmitter turned out. Dan also said he is looking forward to producing more “how to” and technical videos on YouTube after a brief hiatus. We look forward to them.Flashback
Last weekend I came across a YouTube video of The Seekers, in the Abbey Road studio, apparently recording their song “I’ll Never Find Another You” in 1964 (“There’s a new world somewhere, they call the Promised Land …”)
Posted by Rich963, it’s a pretty neat video featuring 1960s recording technology, though I noticed that the console VU meters weren’t moving for part of the video even as the group sang! A nice job of lip synching. Nonetheless it’s a fun peek inside a music recording studio of nearly 60 years ago.
As you watch, there’s one other apparent “flaw.” See if you can pick it up as you view the video.
John Bisset has spent over 50 years in the broadcasting industry and is in his 31st year writing Workbench. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance. John holds CPBE certification with the Society of Broadcast Engineers and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award. Workbench submissions are encouraged, qualify for SBE Recertification, and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gray Television‘s Board of Directors has unanimously voted to expand the board by one seat.
To fill that extra chair, the board has elected the SVP/General Counsel and Corporate Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer for Georgia Power as an independent director.
That would be Sterling A. Spainhour Jr.
Like all Directors, Spainhour’s term will run through the next Gray Annual Meeting.
Spainhour’s resume includes roles at Southern Company, and was a partner at Jones Day for more than 20 years.
He’s also served as senior counsel for CNN.
The numbers don’t lie.
The final three months of 2020 were punishing for iHeartMedia, which enters March 2021 with the need for a new EVP of Programming for its highly important Los Angeles radio cluster and a long-term plan to replace The Rush Limbaugh Show.
How exactly was Q4 for the company led by Bob Pittman and Rich Bressler?
Net income was down 95% year-over-year as adjusted EBITDA declined by 13%.
Despite the rather dour Q4 results, Pittman struck a positive tone on the company’s quarterly earnings call held following the Closing Bell on Wall Street Thursday.With the Q4 and 2020 financial results for iHeartMedia released following the Closing Bell on Thursday, the company says it is implementing a new operational structure that will now have its financials reported in two separate segments – digital audio and multiplatform, which includes all radio stations. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY.
With the Q4 and 2020 financial results for iHeartMedia released following the Closing Bell on Thursday, the company says it is implementing a new operational structure that will now have its financials reported in two separate segments – digital audio and multiplatform, which includes all radio stations.The final three months of 2020 were punishing for iHeartMedia. How exactly was Q4 for the company led by Bob Pittman and Rich Bressler? Net income was down 95% year-over-year as adjusted EBITDA declined by 13%. Despite the rather dour Q4 results, Pittman struck a positive tone on the company’s quarterly earnings call held following the Closing Bell on Wall Street Thursday. FOR THE FULL STORY CLICK HERE!
Gray Television isn’t the only broadcast TV company to greatly benefit from boffo political advertising revenue in the final three months of 2020.
The owner of such stations as NBC affiliate WDIV-4 in Detroit and CBS affiliate WKMG-6 in Orlando enjoyed a big revenue increase in Q4 for its television broadcasting division.
The reason: A big political revenue gain.
Until his June 2020 departure from HC2 Holdings Inc., Phillip Falcone was widely known across the broadcast media industry as a flashy big spender on low-power broadcast TV stations.
Then came accusations that Falcone defaulted on loans. His assets were frozen for failure to compensate his legal representatives. This followed by a 2019 court order that saw HC2 withhold some of Falcone’s salary in lieu of some $2.69 million in unpaid taxes to the City of New York.
All of that negative activity is firmly now in the past, as Falcone has reemerged as the head of a new entity that’s agreed to purchase two low-power TV stations in Los Angeles.
Nautel has added two topics to its schedule of webinars about broadcast technology, scheduled for alternating Wednesdays in March.
On March 3 the company covers “All-Digital AM featuring the NX Series” to answer questions about the MA3 mode of HD Radio now that the FCC has allowed its use.
“Many broadcasters have asked what is involved in upgrading, what the different modes mean, and if there is any benefit for their particular situation.”
On March 17 a webinar will explore “FM Digital, featuring the Nautel HD MultiCast+ (HDMC+) HD Importer/Exporter.” Nautel cites discussion in the industry about the pros and cons of fixed-purpose embedded hardware vs. software implementations, especially involving HD Radio importer and exporter components.
“This webinar will review the evolution of HD Radio for FM, the development and features of the HDMC+, and will cover some of the capabilities of this powerful tool.”
Register at https://nautel.com/webinars. Nautel webinars qualify for ½ SBE recertification credit.
In the state of Maine, cable TV subscribers were in a rather unique situation when it came to not only the channels they wanted — but also the individual shows they desired.
It was part of an a la carte package designed by the state government as part of an effort to seemingly benefit consumers, allowing them to enjoy channels through an “unbundle” by MVPDs.
A district court tossed the law. Now, a federal appeals court has upheld that ruling.
LAKE WALES, FLA. — One of the top providers of media workflow software products to broadcast media companies across the U.S. has signed up Alpha Media as a client.
As such, the Portland, Ore.-based owner of radio stations will extend its vCreative vPPO service while adding the vTrade service across all of its properties.
vTrade was developed by Central Florida-based vCreative to provide media companies with the ability to easily track, manage, audit and report on trade inventory, eliminating the risk of financial loss due to wasted or expired trade.
A recently released feature in vTrade helps manage the creation and sales tracking for on-air auctions, coupons and/or vouchers.
“After using vPPO for nearly three years and knowing how it has improved our workflow, I was excited to see vTrade had been added to the family,” said Stephanie Ross, Regional Business Manager at Alpha Media. “The team at vCreative also added an entirely new component to vTrade that will make managing our auctions even better than before. From entering consignments, tracking sales, and printing vouchers with unique IDs, we can now easily and efficiently manage this complex area of our business.”
Mary DelGrande, SVP of Sales at vCreative, said, “We are thrilled to be continuing and expanding upon our partnership with Alpha Media. vCreative’s main objective is to continue to innovate and evolve. The adoption of vTrade and Alpha’s renewed commitment to vPPO is proof that we are succeeding.”