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Clear Channel’s Premium Shift

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Earlier this week Clear Channel Chairman Of Media And Entertainment Bob Pittman told InsideRadio that it will “create its own version of Pandora” with features for listeners to personalize streams already in the pipeline.

A number of recent domain registrations indicate that Clear Channel may also be looking at adding a subscription based premium service to its IHeartRadio.com branded online offerings. These registrations include IHeartAdless.com, IHeartCommercialFree.com, IHeartComplete.com, IHeartExtreme.com, IHeartOnDemand.com, IHeartPremium.com, IHeartPro.com, IHeartUltra.com, IHeartUnlimited.com, and IHeartVIP.com.

This is a momentous shift. Let’s assume that Clear Channel’s plans include commercial-free streams of existing radio programming, customized streams similar to Pandora, and on-demand audio of live programming we’re looking at an internet based equivalent to SiriusXM and Pandora rolled into one. With the IHeartRadio App available on most mobile devices and now making inroads into automotive dashboards the service could be as portable as your traditional AM/FM radio.

Clear Channel will have the ability to harness the best of traditional radio with the best of the developing online media. Adding a subscription service on top of traditional advertising revenue opens an entire new avenue of income and that’s before adding a Groupon style local deals site (where there are a number of registrations as well by Clear Channel) and other developing revenue streams.

As Mark Ramsey wrote in a pair of posts this week the radio industry has the ability to tailor its content much like Pandora, but time may be running out to get the products into the marketplace. The radio business is evolving quickly before our eyes and now is the time to make inroads or be forced to step aside.

Would you subscribe to a Clear Channel Premium service? What additional features would make the service worthwhile?

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

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