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iHeartMedia CEO: ‘More People Now Listen to Podcasts Than Watch Netflix’

“Our podcasting provides fresh customers.”

Maddy Troy

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Speaking at J.P. Morgan’s annual Global Technology, Media, and Communications Conference, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman expressed optimism about the future of podcasting.

“Everything’s been compressed down as a result of the ad downturn, but nothing other than that seems to be affecting podcasting,” Pittman said.

Pittman highlighted the increasing audience, interest, and usage of podcasts, asserting that more people now listen to podcasts on a weekly basis than watch or subscribe to Netflix. Despite a slower national ad market, iHeartMedia’s podcast division reported double-digit revenue growth for the first quarter of the year, with podcast revenue totaling $77 million, a 12% increase compared to the previous year.

“Advertisers always follow users,” iHeart CFO/COO/President Rich Bressler said Tuesday, telling investors that unlike the declines seen in newspapers, magazines, and increasingly television, podcasting remains firmly in growth mode. “What separates us from everybody else is the rock-solid, resilient nature of our relationship with the listeners,” Bressler said.

Pittman attributed iHeartMedia’s profitability in podcasting to its disciplined approach in content acquisition and its unified buying model, which enables the sale of digital and broadcast ads together.

“We reach 90% of America [with radio] and our podcasting only overlaps a little. So our podcasting provides fresh customers,” Pittman said. “So if we can deliver that reach at a better price than they’re getting elsewhere, that’s the double win for the advertisers. And I think they’re all moving in that direction in one form or another.”

iHeartMedia is also investing in artificial intelligence (AI) as a means to enhance efficiency and decision-making. Pittman emphasized the benefits of AI in tasks such as music scheduling for radio stations, which has led to improved ratings and reduced costs.

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Media Business

Local News Becoming Less Prevalent on Radio, New RTDNA Study Shows

68.4% of locally-owned operations air local news updates, while 54.1% of non-locally owned outlets do the same.

Barrett News Media

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RTDNA logo

Local news has been a focal point for radio stations for decades. But that may be fading away, a new RTDNA study shows.

65% of commercial stations still air local news in 2024, down slightly from 66.2% in 2023. Non-commercial stations have dropped 12% points in the past two years, down to just 60.7% airing local news.

However, the disconnect appears to come from locally owned stations versus non-locally owned. 68.4% of locally-owned operations air local news updates, while 54.1% of non-locally owned outlets do the same.

Not only are there drops in the number of stations broadcasting local news, but the airtime those updates occupy has also shrunk, according to the RTDNA study.

“The biggest drop in average minutes came in large markets, suggesting that fewer all news or news/talk stations there filled out the Survey this year,” the study states. “Medium markets are down a bit; small markets dropped an average of over 20 minutes per weekday.”

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Media Business

YouTube Largest Podcast Discovery Platform By Wide Margin, Westwood One Study Shows

Not only is the Google-owned video platform the most used among podcast newcomers, but it also holds that distinction for heavy podcast consumers and longtime podcast listeners.

Barrett News Media

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A photo of the YouTube logo displayed on a phone

In the span of three years, YouTube has gone from the third most popular podcast discovery platform to the top spot, a Westwood One study suggests.

In a study of more than 600 weekly podcast listeners, 31% say YouTube is the most utilized podcast listening platform. 21% say they use Spotify most frequently, while 12% claimed Apple Podcasts was their go-to destination.

Not only is the Google-owned video platform the most used among podcast newcomers, but it also holds that distinction for heavy podcast consumers and longtime podcast listeners.

YouTube’s podcast listening profile is slightly more male-dominated and also younger than the typical Apple Podcasts audience, according to the results from Westwood One Audio Active Group.

Naturally, the majority of Apple and Spotify users utilize smartphones to access their favorite podcasts, while 38% of YouTube’s audience uses computers and televisions for their favorite shows.

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Media Business

AM/FM Radio Still Largest Medium for Spoken Word Audio, Podcasting Closing Gap

 “Podcasting’s share of spoken word will almost surely surpass that of AM/FM within a few more years.”

Barrett News Media

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A photo of a podcast user's cell phone

AM/FM Radio has long been well-served by the news/talk format. That remains true in 2024, but podcasting has narrowed the gap.

According to the latest Edison Research Share of Ear study, 43% of spoken word audio listening is done on terrestrial radio. 36% is now done with on-demand podcasts, up from 13% in 2017.

 “Podcasting’s share of spoken word will almost surely surpass that of AM/FM within a few more years,” the company forecasts.

In the study, it also revealed that the broadcast radio advantage still rests with listeners older than 65, but has already been surpassed by younger demographics.

From respondents 13-64, 41% listen to spoken word in podcast form compared to 39% for AM/FM radio. But for those 65+, it’s still a 66%-13% advantage for broadcasting.

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