Clear Channel, Cumulus Partnership Aims Crosshairs at Pandora, Groupon

Will cross-publish content from iHeartRadio, SweetJack

Clear Channel's three-year-old digital streaming service, iHeartRadio, will now stream content from 570 terrestrial radio stations owned by competitor Cumulus Media, the companies announced today.

iHeartRadio launched several years ago as a digital platform for Clear Channel’s 850 stations in 150 markets; in September the service relaunched with more personalization features that mimic many of those in Pandora. iHeartRadio now has 65 million digital listening hours a month, according to the company’s announcement. Cumulus, the country's second largest radio company, does not currently make its content available digitally. The partnership allows the company to reach an audience that is increasingly turning to digital distribution for content.

For context, the largest digital radio competitor, Pandora, reported 2.1 billion listening hours in the third quarter, breaking down to approximately 700 per month. The company estimates it accounts for 4 percent of all radio listening. The company’s ad revenue was up 102 percent last quarter. Meanwhile, Clear Channel last week announced that iHeartRadio will remain free of audio ads until April 1. No word on how Clear Channel and Cumulus may split revenues on ads once the iHeartRadio platform begins serving them next year.

Clear Channel and Cumulus’ partnership will extend to SweetJack, Cumulus Media's daily deals arm. SweetJack uses Cumulus’ local radio personalities to endorse group discounts from businesses in its markets. Now Clear Channel's stations in 80 markets will promote SweetJack deals as well.