The Evolution of Media Company CMS Platforms: The Radio Industry

Acquia looks at broadcast radio and how industries are following suit in the movement toward an open source future.

In previous posts in this series on media CMS platforms, I’ve looked at the current media and entertainment industry landscape, and how media companies are making CMS decisions. I’ve discussed the constant motion from one CMS to the next, and general industry consolidation across many media industries, with a specific focus on television markets. Today, we’ll look at broadcast radio and how this industries are following suit in the movement towards an open source future.

Radio Industry CMS Platforms Go Open Source Too

In the land of proprietary CMS platforms, there has been a crop of offerings that directly address the needs of broadcast radio companies. To put it plainly, proprietary CMS platforms can no longer handle the complex technology integrations required of a typical radio broadcasting company, and that means the broadcast radio industry’s CMS landscape has started to change.

One example of this was when Emmis Radio built a homegrown proprietary CMS, Emmis Interactive, and then white labeled the solution and sold it to other radio companies. It was a suitable solution for a period of time, but eventually Emmis’ needs outgrew its own solution, so it moved it’s radio station properties to Drupal and Acquia Cloud Site Factory (ACSF). Meanwhile, Emmis sold off Emmis Interactive to another CMS provider, Marketron, and the company now offers the proprietary solution as “Marketron Interactive.”

Triton Digital and InterTech Media are two other CMS vendors with tailored solutions for broadcast radio, but they have moved away from proprietary technologies too. Triton Digital’s proprietary solution was switched out in favor of it’s own customized version of Wordpress, and InterTech Media is ending the continued development of its CMS product, Vortal.One Entercom radio station producer wrote about the troubles he had with Vortal 3.0 here. InterTech instead has since moved to offering a customized version of Wordpress for it’s radio clients that it calls “Wordpress for Broadcasters.”

Entercom today has several of its Boston radio station properties using Drupal, and is moving its other stations off of both InterTech’s Vortal and Triton Digital’s solutions. This movement shows that the trend towards open source continues, and radio stations are just the next wave of media companies looking to make the move.

I believe the need to accommodate CMS integrations is the main driver behind radio industry CMS platforms moving to open source. Unlike the TV station ownership groups, there is less consolidation in this media segment since most of the merger activity happened years ago, and today the giants like CBS Radio and iHeartMedia dominate. In fact, those two companies in the Los Angeles market recently accounted for 47% of all radio listeners. iHeart Radio uses a custom built CMS for its radio properties, and CBS Radio leverages Wordpress.

Cox Media Group and Cumulus are the other two large US radio broadcasters, and they currently leverage custom built, homegrown CMS solutions for the individual radio stations.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of pressure on Cumulus Media to deliver a financial turnaround, which could spell M&A activity for the company and its peers. It’s fair to say now that Marketron is the last proprietary CMS vendor serving the broadcast radio market, though it primarily counts smaller radio companies as its customers. In digging deeper, I have found other, smaller point solutions like Aiir, which bills itself as “radio station content management.” However, I have never come across Aiir at a major US broadcaster.

Right now we really see the market for broadcast radio’s digital platforms as Drupal, Wordpress (primarily through radio focused vendors like Triton and InterTech), and custom media company built CMSs. During 2016, we will be keeping a close eye out for further industry consolidation in radio, and how any potential deals could impact movement in CMS for radio.

The market for CMS solutions for broadcast radio does not seem as crowded as CMS solutions for newspaper brands. In the next installment of this series, I’ll examine why, until recently, proprietary vendors have dominated the newspaper industry. We will also detail why there is such a proliferation of solutions for newspapers but how industry consolidation and the need for better digital products is wiping away many of the players from the game.

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