iHeart Set to Disrupt Nielsen

Nielsen has had no bigger friend than iHeart in more ways than people know.

iHeart owns 850+ stations in 150 markets and had plenty of need for audience ratings.

That was before “dislocation” and “excellence centers”.

iHeart is owned by the same people who own a large chunk of Nielsen.

Yet, it is becoming more evident that Nielsen may wind up the ironic victim of the very thing that helped it grow – consolidation.

iHeart’s competitors will be directly impacted by forces that will upend the radio industry once again and redefine how radio will prove effectiveness to advertisers.

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Townsquare Faces Bankruptcy Over Debt

The second attempt to sell Townsquare is over but the company’s financial troubles are just beginning.

If we know this, certainly their private equity owners are aware of it.  Townsquare didn’t try that sale “Hail Mary” for nothing.

They reportedly paid Houlihan Lokey somewhere between $50-100,000 to in effect tell them what everyone already knew – there are no buyers.

But now that Townsquare is forced to operate as is, they have debt problems that could be the biggest challenge to the company’s viability since it went public.

This has huge repercussions for not only their employees, but competitors in markets where they currently operate and for investors who are still drinking the Kool-Aid that Townsquare is a digital company.

No company tries to sell itself two times – unsuccessfully at that – unless they know something they don’t want to talk about.

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iHeart’s Plan to “Dislocate” Their Competitors

The term “dislocation” used to replace the word “firing” is tone deaf but on Wall Street, they understand its true meaning.

Since it was introduced last month when iHeart “dislocated’ over 1,000 employees, the focus has been on iHeart’s sale to Liberty Media.

But there is a similar iHeart-attack waiting for their competitors that is designed to force them into economies of scale and make it more difficult for them to break even.

These plans are as ruthless as what they unleashed on their own employees, but this is a desperate company waiting to be taken over and ready to play a new kind of hardball with competitors.

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Cumulus to Sell Assets

This is the start of the real selloff not the New York, LA and Atlanta station giveaways previously.

Financial problems continue to plague Cumulus.

Market managers are complaining about being strapped by cost-cutting.

Now we learn that the post-bankruptcy Cumulus owners consisting largely of lenders who took a haircut are done with a declining radio industry.

They want their money at all costs and employees are about to feel their urgency.

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Alpha Media Takeover Within 6 Months

What a mess.

Founder Larry Wilson intended for Alpha Media to be everything iHeart was not – live and local and soundly invested in carefully chosen mid-sized radio markets.

But in his haste to do an IPO, Wilson bought a micro-market company known as Digity and the high price of adding insignificant small market stations put Alpha underwater ever since.

Wilson was kicked aside.  Paul Stone came to his financial rescue and took over control.

Now, even Stone may get burned as a new owner is waiting in the wings and their goal is not live and local but buy and sell.

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