Clear Channel Attacks Pandora and Sirius XM

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No one expects the disrupted to be the disruptor, but that appears to be what terrestrial radio giant CC Media Holdings is doing today.

The parent company behind Clear Channel -- the AM and FM behemoth with 850 radio stations attracting 243 million monthly listeners across the country -- is beefing up its iHeartRadio app. The new "Add-Ins" feature lets listeners of iHeartRadio's customized stations to have brief local news, weather, and traffic updates inserted into their streams.

In other words, you now have as many as three fewer reasons to listen to Clear Channel's traditional radio stations if you have smartphone in a newer model car that allows Bluetooth streaming.


It's a bold move for Clear Channel to get ahead of the trend, even if it means sacrificing its own business.

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Clear Channel's move will raise the stakes for Pandora and Spotify, and it may even challenge Sirius XM Radio for dashboard attention.

After all, Sirius XM and its lesser terrestrial radio peers have always had the advantage of live content. Sirius XM benefits from its ability to pay up for premium programming, setting itself apart from the music-centric Pandora and Spotify. Traditional radio stations offer local perspectives that even Sirius XM can't match outside of its traffic and weather updates for major metropolitan markets.

The beauty of Add-Ins is that it's not just about the local perspective. Add-Ins can be customized. Someone that isn't hitting the open road may not care about traffic. Someone staying in may not care about the weather. Not everyone cares about local news headlines.

Yes, iHeartRadio's biggest threat will be to Clear Channel's own stations, but the move ultimately raises the bar for Pandora, as the rival free ad-supported service and other premium digital platforms will need to offer more to remain competitive.

Despite Sirius XM being one of the market's biggest winners since bottoming out three years ago, there is still some healthy upside to be had if things go right for it -- and plenty of room for it to fall if things don't. Read all about Sirius in our brand new premium report. To get started, just click here now.

The article Clear Channel Attacks Pandora and Sirius XM originally appeared on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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