A surprising new alliance in the world of streaming radio was announced today as Clear Channel Radio and Cumulus Media Inc. revealed plans for the iHeartRadio.com digital platform to become the online home of audio streams from the 570 terrestrial stations owned by Cumulus. The deal also includes an arrangement where Clear Channel stations will become the promotional home of Cumulus' daily deals platform, SweetJack.
While Cumulus stations will continue to provide individual streams on their station Web sites, iHeartRadio.com will aggregate the stations for national audiences to consume. In return, Cumulus stations will advertise the iHeartRadio.com platform on the air and with links on their Web sites.
Lew Dickey, CEO of Cumulus Media, said the decision to stream the company's radio stations on iHeartRadio.com will, "extend our reach to people across the country who will be able to listen to our great brands anytime, anywhere."
In addition, Clear Channel stations will begin advertising the Groupon-style daily deals service SweetJack on the air and through their website.
Launched last April in 16 markets, Cumulus reports Sweetjack has already grown to include more than one million members. Now, with this new deal in place, Cumulus can accelerate plans to expand the service by creating a promotional base of nearly 1,400 radio stations.
"Radio connects local businesses to consumers like no other medium can, and we're looking forward to helping our listeners find even more great deals right in their own backyards with SweetJack." said Bob Pittman, CEO of Clear Channel.
While the implications of this deal will begin to play out over the early part of 2012, it leaves questions about the future streaming plans of other major broadcast companies such as Entercom, which owns more than 100 stations in 23 markets, and Emmis Communications which owns some of the biggest radio brands in major markets like New York and Los Angeles.
While larger broadcast companies may decide that radio's primarily local appeal is sufficient reason to maintain their streams independently, the lure of being accessible on a nationally promoted platform could create further alliances between the traditionally highly competitive broadcast companies.