At Localogy’s Place conference last fall (which incidentally seems like 8 years ago), iHeart’s Eric Hadley introduced us to the concept of “share of ear.” Today at Localogy 20/20 he revisited that principle and expanded on several other concepts that orbit the business opportunities for audio content.
For those unfamiliar with the share-of-ear construct, the idea is that our visual stimulus is overcrowded… but there’s still lots of headroom to get information audibly with the growth in all-day hearables like airpods. This coincides with the explosion in audio content being created, such as podcasts.
Hadley and iHeart are primed for that opportunity given that iHeart is now the largest U.S. broadcasting company and podcasting distribution point. It also has tentacles firmly planted around live events. So add it all up and its position is diversified to weather market shifts… or pandemics.
With that positioning, iHeart has doubled down on the components of its business that are Covid-advantaged, namely broadcasting and podcasts. Both sit alongside software, communications, and entertainment as Covid-advantaged formats, given that people tune in for connection and escapism.
The former has been a driving force for its usage over the past six months says Hadley, as people want to feel connected while they listen to streaming audio… as opposed to listening to your “record collection” (or any stored media). This offers a sense of what Hadly calls “companionship” for sheltered-in-place masses.
"Audio is a source of companionship" #localogy2020
— Localogy (@think_localogy) September 14, 2020
Podcasts meanwhile offer that same sense of connection while having the additional draw of storytelling. This puts it in an entertainment bucket, which is similarly a Covid-Advantaged area just like gaming and streaming TV. And the habit born from drive-time listening has adapted to at-home listening says Hadley.
But with those shifts and cultural sensibilities of the time, listenership is changing qualitatively. For example, true crime was a podcast genre that was blowing up Pre-covid but has slowed down as people want more comforting material in a Pandemic. News and politics have also taken mindshare for obvious reasons.
Listening outlets have also shifted. Smart speakers are up in usage according to Hadley as a touchpoint to audio content. But more interestingly, iHeart has seen an inflection in users streaming its content via its smart TV apps. This stands to reason as more consumers are tethered to their living rooms than ever before.
For the full on-demand session, register for Localogy 20/20. And stay tuned for lots more session coverage as we dive into day 2 at 11 am EST tomorrow.
How Will Radio Continue to Change?
Share of “ear” or share of listening is the new metric for what used to be the world of radio. As new formats and distribution approaches fill our ears with a vast array of options and modalities, how does a traditional radio company transform itself, its audience, and its operations to adjust to the new realities and dimensions of listenership?
Eric Hadley, iHeartMedia