Springtime Blooms: Good News at CBS, Pandora

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bloomFlowers are coming up, birdsong is in the air, Mother Nature’s season of growth is upon us.

In the midst of the economic hardships facing the world, signs of growth are starting to become evident and cautious optimism is rearing its head in a number of quarters. Like the first buds forming after the bitter winter, growth has become visible.

Let’s start with positive tidings from CBS Radio via Jeffrey Yorke over at MediaWeek:

This week, CBS Radio president and CEO Dan Mason reported that the group is seeing improved ad sales during the second quarter at some of its major market stations and that online streaming of CBS radio signals is growing. In an interview with MarketWatch, Mason said that some major new advertisers are returning to the dial along with some beloved veteran clients. Mason said ad trends are improving, and he speculates that advertisers who had held back from spending on radio in the fourth quarter and during the first two months of this year are springing loose from their cabin fever.

Not only that, but in a multimillion dollar deal, CBS Radio landed Blockbuster as an advertising client. For those of you unaware, Blockbuster has not used radio advertising for several years now.

This promising uptick in ad sales combined with a move into fledgling formats paints a sunnier picture than the economy would suggest. Format shifting alone has radically increased cume for a number of CBS stations, including KLSX (97.1 AMP Radio)/Los Angeles where the cume has rocketed upwards to approximately 2.4 million listeners from 600,000, a jump achieved in the first six weeks after changing formats to CHR/Top 40.

Then comes the impressive announcement from Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora, who expects the company to see its first profits in 2010. The introduction of their iPhone app a mere ten months ago is seen as a significant driving force in the service’s expansion. Since its introduction, it has brought in 5 million users and adds another 18,000 to 20,000 new ones daily, according to Westergren.

Its been a long wait since Pandora’s 2000 inception. Their success depends on overcoming one hurdle: Just as terrestrial radio has been embroiled in a congressional battle over royalties, so has Internet radio. In the online segment, the issue is how much is to be paid in royalties. Pandora, along with other online services including those from Yahoo! Inc., AOL and RealNetworks Inc., is currently negotiating with recording companies, artists and copyright holders, and Westergren said he’s “never been more optimistic than I am now” that a resolution is close. (Meg Tirrell  has a great piece on Westergren and Pandora up on Bloomberg if you want more info.)

It seems as though we have some positive indicators, something to be glad of and to nurture during the current madness. Everything is cyclical, downturns cannot last forever, and as an industry we have weathered comparable storms in the past. Right now there may just be some sunshine on the horizon!

Photo courtesy of Dave The Grey, used under its Creative Commons license

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