Katz360 has dropped Pandora from its list of clients, according to a story in Inside Radio this morning. Katz360 is owned by Katz Media Group which is owned by Clear Channel. (Inside Radio is also owned by Clear Channel.)
This is the latest development in a series of events leading to an increasing divide between streaming broadcasters and online stations over whether the two types of listening platforms should be assimilated in terms of measurement – and now in terms of sales strategies and representation. There’s been a big argument brewing over when and how Arbitron will measure Internet radio – with many of their broadcast clients applying heavy pressure to limit the exposure that online only stations such as Pandora have in Arbitron – arguing instead that online only stations should not appear alongside streaming broadcast stations in rankers.
This of course would make it difficult for advertisers and agencies to accurately assess the Internet radio options in one place. Which is apparently the goal of broadcasters. Instead, they want Arbitron ratings that enable them to add their on-air and online audiences so they can represent and price them as one. And they want those ratings to exclude Pandora and other online only stations.
I have to say that I saw this coming. Readers here may be aware that Katz360 is the former Net Radio Sales, a company that I founded in 2003. We sold it to Katz in 2007 and I ran it for another year there before leaving in 2008. It was always our goal to represent both online stations and broadcaster streams together as one large Internet radio network. There is no indication that Katz will discontinue its relations with other online stations. Yet.
Katz, and in particular its spokesperson Mary Beth Garber, have been outspoken in denouncing Pandora’s attempts to position itself as radio and pursue local and national radio revenues. In fact, they’ve been so outspoken that I have been wondering how Katz360 could represent Pandora. (see my comment below my post, here.)
This is hardly a massive blow to Pandora – Katz was representing only their local market revenue and I am sure that both Triton and Targetspot will be eager to add them as clients. It is a blow to Internet radio as I see it – Clear Channel and Katz have declared war and refused to work together with Pandora to develop the Internet radio marketplace…What do YOU think?