Pittman: TV’s Downfall Is Radio’s Opportunity


iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman and COO Rich Bressler were in Las Vegas, Wednesday, for a financial conference hosted by Wells Fargo. With a much lighter debt load post-bankruptcy, and a multi-platform media company to brag about, Pittman and Bressler were more than happy to pitch investors on the scale of iHeart and the power of radio.

With television audiences dropping due to the growth of subscription services, and consumers cutting the cord, Pittman pointed out how stable radio has been over the years. “From 2014 to 2019 AQH radio listening is down only 1.9% — virtually unmoved.” And, he added there has been no degradation in reach: “It’s the same 92-93% that it was in the 70s.”

“Television has always been the foundation buy because it provided reach,” according to the iHeart CEO. But times are changing on the television side. “At 75% you’re not reaching anymore and when you’re down to Gen Z at 50%, you’re certainly not. And, does radio have the opportunity to fill that? It should. If you look just at rational economics.”

Pittman said that advertisers are also beginning to act that way, coming back to radio. “Three years ago I think Proctor & Gamble was not in our top 100 advertisers. This year they may be the number one advertiser. Radio has turned out to be a wildly efficient medium to reach a lot of people. People still like video but most of the great scripted shows have moved to subscription, off of ad-supported vehicles, and television just doesn’t reach as many people.”

Pittman also discussed how iHeart’s many platforms (radio, digital, events, podcasts) leads to expanding relationships with advertisers. “Someone came to us a couple years ago initially just to advertise within one of our events. Now they are one of our biggest advertisers on broadcast radio as well as one of our biggest event sponsors.”

And he says the engagement consumers have with iHeart is huge. “We have more monthly users than Facebook and Google. In terms of engagement, Facebook has 18 minutes, Google has 26 minutes, and iHeart has 30 minutes of daily usage. We reach the people and we have an engaged relationship with them. We’re doing extraordinarily well. And that’s just the broadcast platform. In November, we’ll hit an all-time high for digital reach, approaching 100 million. On social media we’re now over 200 million fans. When we did the iHeartRadio music awards we had about 300 billion social impressions, about twice the Super Bowl did or the Academy Awards. So we now have all of our platforms working together. Instead of them being silos or bolt-on businesses we can now talk to the consumer through all of these relationships.”


  1. As much as Pittman would like to say TV is declining he knows Radio is no match. Satellite radio, personal playlists and mobile devices have all but killed radio.

    • But as he says, iHeart is a player in all of those things too. If you want to counter his point, it would be that major TV companies are also diversifying, so they are more than just broadcast. What’s missing in all of this is a way to measure cross-platform media usage in a way that’s “apples to apples.”


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