Saturday, January 7, 2017

Bob Pittman Talks Radio Content, New On-Demand Services

Bob Pittman
iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman, during a “Fireside Chat” Thursday with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, his longtime friend/onetime corporate teammate, said he saw radio as an unparalleled opportunity from early on.

Discussing his decision to helm Clear Channel Radio after successful leading roles with the likes of MTV, AOL, Century 21 and Pilot Group, Pittman told Armstrong that “there was this huge platform and no one was doing anything with it. It was like heroin to me. Clear Channel had huge reach but it was just a bunch of radio stations in markets.”

Taking on the company, he said, “Everyone thought radio would decline like TV and newspapers, but the idea was, Let’s take on this platform. It turns out radio is companionship. People crave companionship, they develop a real relationship with our talent, and from this we created a digital platform.”

According to InsideRadio, Pittman said he had his eye on Pixar in terms of how to most effectively brand iHeartMedia. “Let’s build a master brand,” he said. “Let’s pool our resources and create huge events around iHeart.” It worked, he said, citing in-house stats that positive impressions are 30% higher when consumers associate a radio station under the iHeart umbrella.

Pittman added that so many companies have a video strategy, a content strategy, an events strategy “and they have all these strategies and you ask, What’s your sound strategy and they go, huh? For iHeart, we look to embed sound everywhere we can. If radio is your companion, how do we put your companion everywhere?”

Also this week, Pittman discused radio content, new on demand services, teaming up with Napster and the company’s debt load. He speaks on “Bloomberg Markets” from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

With just weeks to go before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, Pittman told CNBC he was disappointed by the fact that political advertising wasn't stronger during the campaign season. "Trump didn't spend near the amount that had been spent before, and Hillary spent less than expected as a result," he said.

In the wake of the election, Pittman said talk radio is doing "extraordinarily well," and the company is working to make sure that it's offering content for all segments of the population, particularly those who feel their voice isn't being heard.

As for the business where Pittman first made his mark, MTV, he says he's bullish about the value of MTV and Viacom's other brands and the potential for the struggling company to turn things around.

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