Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Chairman Bob Pittman did an excellent interview with CNBC on Tuesday. It should come as no surprise that SIRI sold off on Tuesday. Pittman addressed Clear Channel’s purchase of digitial music company, Thumbplay. Of course, the headlines generated centered around how Clear Channel plans to offer Pandora-like service by letting users of its iHeart Radio platform create their own customized playlists. As Pittman explained, Clear Channel has the upperhand on Pandora, given that the company’s properties already reach 228 million radio listeners every month.
While radio has feebly reacted to new media offerings, ranging from iTunes to Pandora to Sirius/XM, for most of the 21st century, Clear Channel now plans to attack. Pittman notes that, unlike Pandora, Clear Channel can promote digital radio to its built-in audience. And it’s not just local stations making the pitch, Clear Channel can also leverage the reach of its stable of national radio celebrities, including Rush Limbaugh and Ryan Seacrest, to advocate its digital offerings. According to Pittman, just three percent of listeners use digital radio; the rest go the old-fashioned way, leaving plenty of growth potential. Lost in the talk of Clear Channel’s Pandora copycat was something just as big. It’s a certain body blow and potential death knell to Sirius/XM.