Are We Finally Moving Closer To A One-Stop Streaming Shop For Broadcast Radio?

Recent deals have shown that the doors may be opening for more collaboration between broadcasters to bring their stations to as many platforms as possible.

After keeping their stations exclusive to their own iHeartRadio app for years, iHeartMedia made a deal with TuneIn to bring their stations to that platform in exchange for TuneIn to use iHeart’s internal digital advertising products to sell on the TuneIn platform. With Audacy putting much more emphasis on its digital platform since rebranding both the company and its platform under the same name earlier this year, it has been expanding the number of other broadcasters on its platofrm in recent weeks with Entravision and Radio One added and the app currently having empty market listings for all Cumulus markets hinting that company will soon make its stations available there.

There are still four diverging strategies amongst the larger commercial broadcasters. iHeartMedia is still in a league of its own as the 800 pound gorilla, but its willingness to open its stations to TuneIn and Apple Music at least shows a newfound willingness to work with others. As it is still growing its platform, Audacy is looking inwards but ramping up with other groups to accumulate a critical-mass. The rest have had to determine which ship to jump aboard.

Back when mobile apps were the only reason to have your own streaming platform, many broadcasters created aggregators or attempted to move into pure-play streaming with services such as Cumulus’ Rdio, Univision’s Uforia, and Townsquare Media’s RadioPup. Now with having to serve as home to podcasts and being able to power smart speakers and connected dashboards, the need for most broadcasters has become to get their stations available wherever the listeners are. It it that pushing groups towards putting their stations on multiple services.

The following chart shows which of the larger commercial operators are on what platform.

There are now six (with Cumulus potentially becoming a seventh) groups on all of the big three aggregators (Audacy, iHeartRadio and TuneIn) with the recent additions of Entravision and Radio One to the Audacy app. They join Alpha Media, Beasley, Cox Media Group, and Salem Media as previously being on all three.

Audacy iPhone app showing Cumulus Media markets not yet live on the platform including Abilene, Allentown, Ann Arbor, and Appleton.
Audacy iPhone app showing Cumulus Media markets not yet live on the platform including Abilene, Allentown, Ann Arbor, and Appleton.

On the other end of the spectrum are Renda and Townsqaure Media, which push listeners to their station-specific apps. This does make it harder for listeners to find said stations on a smart speaker, but in Townsquare’s case emphasizes the written content that they company places a high importance on internally.

This is positive momentum, but we still have a long ways to go to put all FCC licensed broadcasters on equal footing like the RadioPlayer standard used in other countries on the principle of “Share technology, compete on content”.

None of the platforms have made it easy for smaller broadcasters to add their stations. TuneIn placed a freeze on new station submissions several years ago, but if you know their internal code for your allocation it can be done. Neither iHeart or Audacy have publicly available information for a licensed station to potentially be added the way they do for podcasts. Audacy is also lagging in its support for non-commercial stations as one college station on Long Island is the only one on the platform. It is understandable that whatever strategy an operator has may keep a station off a platform, but any licensed station that wants to agree to the aggregator’s terms of entry should be granted access without having to jump through hoops.

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