Reflecting Its Digital Shift, Clear Channel Becomes iHeartMedia

Media and entertainment company Clear Channel is today rebranding itself as iHeartMedia, picking up the new name from its digital business iHeartRadio. The latter was formed three years ago as Clear Channel’s key entry into digital music, and as of June has reached 50 million registered users, the company claims.

In addition, Clear Channel, now iHeartMedia, claims that its radio service has “70 percent consumer awareness” and is now the dominant national brand among the company’s assets.

The new name will be adopted by all of Clear Channel, including 859 radio stations in over 150 markets, with over 245 million listeners a month; iHeartMedia Digital, with more than 90 million digital monthly uniques; Premiere Networks, which syndicates 90 radio programs and services to more than 5,500 radio affiliates; the Total Traffic and Weather Network, reaching a majority of U.S. commuters; 20,000 live music events; and ClearChannel’s related companies, including Katz Media Group.

The one exception is Clear Channel Outdoor, the large outdoor advertising company which provides billboards and other out-of-home advertising opportunities for its customers. It will retain its name going forward.

The company’s stock symbol will also change, as of tomorrow.

The larger takeaway from iHeartMedia’s decision is how it reflects the shift that has taken place across the music industry from AM/FM’s prominence in the space, to now digital and streaming music services ranging from online and mobile radio offerings like Pandora or iHeartMedia, to streaming-on-demand options provided by Spotify and Rdio, for example.

iHeartMedia has been attempting to navigate this shift by making its own 859 radio stations available to iHeartRadio subscribers, allowing them the option to stream music in the more traditional, radio-like format where there’s still DJ chatter and programmed playlists.

Now the company as a whole wants to be perceived as being in the digital and mobile media business.

“We have massive consumer reach and influence across our platforms because we know how to program the live content people want to hear, see and share right now, we are the largest mobile media company in existence –,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc. in a prepared statement, “more than 60 percent of our broadcast usage is out of home, compared to just 30 percent for other mobile devices – and we deliver more live programming than any other media company today, built on the national and local on-air personalities who are the heart of our powerful broadcast radio franchises,” he added.

The company is right to try and throw its weight around in the digital music space where the name “Clear Channel” likely gave the perception of it being something of an “old-timer.” According to a report this summer from Edison Research and Statista (via Mediapost), iHeartRadio’s brand is one to beat in the streaming space, following Pandora’s 31% share with its second-place position of 9%, then ahead of iTunes Radio’s 8% share.