Clear Channel Rebrands Itself as iHeartMedia

A move to stay competitive in digital market

Clear Channel has a new name for the digital age: iHeartMedia, reports The New York Times. The rebranding effort is inspired by the media company’s iHeartRadio online listening network.

Launched in 2008, iHeartRadio has played an instrumental role in growing the multiplatform radio industry and nationalizing what has historically been a local media. In addition to the radio platform, the iHeartRadio brand has grown to include an annual music festival (scheduled for this weekend in Las Vegas) and an awards show.

Founded in 1972, Clear Channel was acquired by a private equity company as part of a $17.9 billion deal in 2008. It is the world’s largest radio broadcasting company, owning 850 stations.

With this rebranding, the company incorporates a growing digital trend into its identity. Most of its holding companies, including CC Media Holdings and Clear Channel Communications, will also be rebranded with variations of the iHeart name.

“We’ve taken our biggest national brand, our newest brand, our most digital brand, and made that the name of the company,” said Robert W. Pittman, CEO of iHeartMedia.

Of the 245 million people in Clear Channel’s monthly U.S. audience, less than 5 percent engage with digital platforms. With the rebranding, the company hopes to gain a competitive edge in an industry full of on-demand media competitors, such as Spotify and Pandora, the latter of which has an active monthly audience of 76 million users.

Although digital radio still lags behind traditional broadcasting in terms of revenue, big growth is expected for digital in the coming years—160 percent through 2018, according to projections from research firm eMarketer.