Clear Channel is ramping up its Web presence again, with a planned launch this month of video-on-demand capabilities for 17 station Web sites in five major markets.

Clear Channel is ramping up its Web presence again, with a planned launch this month of video-on-demand capabilities for 17 station Web sites in five major markets.

The radio conglomerate will begin its VOD initiative in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., customizing archive access to thousands of videos to the branding of respective stations.

“An urban station in St. Louis will look very different from a country station in D.C.,” says Evan Harrison, Clear Channel executive VP of online music and radio. “We want to take advantage of the extent to which stations can customize the product locally.”

For Harrison, that’s not just PR schmooze, but a point of differentiation from the VOD services that AOL, Yahoo and MSN already offer, to great effect.

AOL representatives say they serve roughly 3 million-5 million music video streams daily. Yahoo Music head of artist and label relations Jay Frank places his company’s number at “easily over 10 million per day.”
Clear Channel’s VOD initiative follows a year in which the company dramatically increased its online offerings and traffic.

According to Harrison, the company began 2005 with 200 stations streaming online and ended with more than 450, with average weekly listeners growing from 300,000 to 950,000. Midyear, Clear Channel launched Stripped, its online-only concert series, on 125 Web sites, as well as podcasts. The company has since served some 6.5 million podcasts, a number that Harrison says is growing by 10% per week.

Viewed in terms of unique visitors to a brand’s network of music properties, Clear Channel still trails AOL, Yahoo and MSN substantially.

There’s more than just Web traffic at stake. Online advertising continues to explode, up about 30% in 2005 to around $11 billion.

Harrison expects Clear Channel’s momentum to carry into VOD. “Year one, we laid the foundation and proved to be the most aggressive radio company on the Web,” he says. “Now with VOD in effect, that will enable us to compete with the online portals who have been in video on demand.”

Clear Channel plans to expand VOD to other markets during the year, and Harrison says that such on-air promotions as radio DJs directing listeners to vote online in video “battles” will also fuel growth.

Tagged