Thumbs Up For Clear Channel’s Latest Play

Clear Channel just upped the ante for radio broadcasters extending their brands online by purchasing mobile streaming startup Thumbplay. Even their announcement told the traditional radio community that the biggest broadcaster in the land has moved on – they gave the story exclusively to WSJ‘s online digital daily AllThingsD. Not even Clear Channel’s own Inside Radio got to break the news.

A year ago Thumbplay was just introducing their premium mobile streaming service and comparing themselves to Spotify. In October they got lots of attention for reaching (according to them) half a million mobile app downloads. At that point there was a lot of speculation as to how many of those free apps they were converting to paying subscribers at $9.99 a month. Very few, it turns out. AllThingsD reported that at the time of the sale Thumbplay had just 20,000 paying customers.

This is a great play for Clear Channel. They pick up – at a price that has not been discussed, but speculation is that it is less than the $41million that investors have into the startup – a nice streaming platform that enables them to easily extend their brands on to mobile devices.

Clear Channel streams most of its 1000+ radio stations on their iheartradio streaming platform as well as various online only channels. In addition, this service gives them a service that enables on-demand streaming, playlist and library syncing, playlist building (generate a playlist from any song) and more. 

It also gives Clear Channel a position in the cloud based music streaming game – a game that lots of big companies have been scrambling to cover themselves in – last year we saw Apple purchase Lala and Google buy Simplify, services that could enable cloud based streaming from multiple devices.

This move comes not long after Bob Pittman joined Clear Channel as Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms. “Joining Thumbplay’s custom radio and subscription services with Clear Channel’s streaming expertise, iHeartRadio’s Internet and mobile audio and music services, including 750 online radio stations, digital-only stations and apps, will create an unsurpassed integrated music product. Couple this with Clear Channel’s promotional power to reach 228 million people on a monthly basis, and you have a combination nobody else can match.”

He may just be right, it’s a great move…

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