There is a famous saying in the legal profession: “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the facts and the law are against you, yell like hell.”
On Monday I posted an entirely fact-based statement about iHeart’s streaming data as supplied by Triton Digital (a company whose information has received accreditation from the Media Ratings Council and is widely considered accurate). You can read that post here.
On Tuesday the article got picked up by the radio trades, and predictably the people at iHeart felt the need to ‘respond’ via their Public Relations team. Their statement in its entirety is:
The blog you posted today about Edison’s take on iHeartRadio’s growth shows one thing in particular: That Edison simply doesn’t understand consumers. For consumers, digital listening isn’t a discrete or different activity; the smartphone is just a portable radio to be used along with the car radio, the kitchen radio, the clock radio and the office radio. We don’t think of the office radio as its own unique listening – and nor should we for the smartphone. What makes more sense to discuss is ‘total listening,’ which would combine total digital listening with broadcast radio listening to represent all platforms consumers are using.
And on the digital front, objective third-party measurement makes clear that iHeartMedia continues to expand its strong digital presence. Digital monthly uniques for the iHeartMedia Digital Network grew 61% year to date, which is even more impressive given that 92% of listening in America happens on AM/FM broadcast radio – and digital listening is additive for us. And in reality, a metric like ‘Average Active Sessions’ is not useful -- for the simple reason that nobody knows whether the length of the session is 5 seconds or 5 minutes, or the reasons behind starting a new session. More station starts could simply mean less consumer satisfaction -- or lower quality due to technical problems.
When discussing consumer listening, it’s helpful to have a full understanding of consumers’ actual audio behavior.
Normally I would take the ‘high road’ and just let this absurd statement go. But iHeart has chosen to resort to insults. While the stuff in the middle of this statement is just a bunch of change-the-subject nonsense that does not even address the points in my article, the beginning and end are what is characterized as an “ad hominem” argument. Meaning – if you can’t argue the position, attack the arguer.
So here is my response to the PR folks at iHeart, or whoever directed them to write this: You know that you have neither the ‘facts nor the law’ on your side.
The shares of iHeart stations in PPM markets are down. The sum of the publicly reported 6+ shares for all iHeart stations in PPM markets were DOWN 3% when comparing stations between Spring of 2012 and Spring of 2014.
As my original post stated and the response does not refute, iHeart’s online listening is flat. (The response doesn’t even dispute the Triton numbers – it changes the topic to ‘uniques’ and 'session starts' -- two things that don't mean listening and that I didn't even mention). So let me quote iHeart back to itself. “What makes more sense to discuss is ‘total listening,’ which would combine total digital listening with broadcast radio listening to represent all platforms consumers are using”.
Agreed. Let's discuss 'total listening.' If iHeart's 'over the air' numbers are down, and their online listening is flat...what is iHeart's 'total listening' trend? Prediction: Any response will change the subject to a growing 'cume' -- the number that grows on account of US population growth, and not expanded radio 'listening' as measured by time spent (ratings).
I also suggest that anyone interested rereads the original post. There is not a single insulting word about iHeart as a company or its products. I didn't attack iHeart, I merely stated a fact about their reported online listening from a highly credible 'objective, third-party measurement' source. And then asked "Why?" Because iHeart doesn’t have the facts on its side, it chooses to resort to insults. iHeart has to ‘yell like hell’ because someone has dared to shine the light on the truth.