Video killed the radio deal?

Lazy Buggles artwork

The two biggest commercial radio companies in Australia might not be merging after all. ARN’s takeover of SCA in Australia appears to be on the rocks; Anchorage Capital Partners appears to have pulled out. At the time of writing this, there’s a stock market announcement to be made early on Monday morning. It appears to have been the regional TV stations that SCA owns that might have scuppered the deal, with a growing realisation by Anchorage (who’d have got them) that they’re a liability, rather than an asset. (SCA sells television airtime for a number of other organisations: some of them have recently announced closures, and Paramount’s Network 10 has announced a number of cancelled shows).

This proposed merger has been curious to look at from a British point of view. To satisfy media ownership rules, the radio licences would have been split between ARN and Anchorage - to the confusion of many Australian commentators. Yet, it’s no different to what’s happened in the UK with Global and Communicorp; indeed, Global licences brands and programming to Communicorp, which is more than would appear to have been contemplated here.

Of the listening apps, it’s been assumed that, of LiSTNR and iHeart, LiSTNR would be the one that would be retained. LiSTNR is promoting its own technology quite hard (perhaps deliberately so). In a recent episode, The Mi3 podcast has Kim Loasby, SCA Head of Digital Ad Product & Operations and Luke Minto, National Head of Audio Sales, waxing lyrical about the LiSTNR tech stack.

There’s considerable benefit in owning your digital tech; but also considerable cost, too. iHeart is already on many different surfaces, like cars and hotel rooms, has a recognisable brand thanks to the brand’s parent company in the US, and a lot of good technical integrations with others. LiSTNR has excellent people working on it, but it’s a solution in one, small, country; iHeart is in-use in a number of places including Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, and of course the US, where the technology is most advanced. Perhaps it’s not such an obvious choice after all.

I’m at The Podcast Show in London in a few weeks’ time, and as part of my opening keynote, will be sharing some exclusive data from a week’s worth of podcast download numbers. I’ve uncovered some fascinating things. The code PODNEWS10 will get you a saving on selected passes.

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Coming up…

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