Tongues were wagging across Radioland on Thursday in response to a report in Financial Times that claims “Apple is turning to traditional broadcasting to boost its streaming service, exploring a tie-up with iHeartMedia, the largest U.S. radio group that is attempting to claw itself out of bankruptcy.”
The report — and subsequent coverage in CNBC and across the radio industry’s trade publications — helped iHeart stock rise 32.4% on Thursday, to 49 cents.
The London-based journal of record for the global financial industry reports that iHeartMedia creditors have been contacting potential investors ahead of a November deadline to file a reorganization plan with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston that is considering its petition to shed its debtor-in-possession status.
According to “people familiar with the discussions,” Apple is among the companies that have chatted with iHeartMedia about a deal.
This would be similar in nature to what SiriusXM first did with Pandora — grabbing an equity stake in iHeart to the tune of “tens of millions of dollars,” Financial Times claims, citing “one person briefed on the talks.”
Or, rather than a direct investment, a multimillion-dollar marketing partnership with iHeartRadio and Apple could be the result.
No one from Apple or iHeart is speaking on the record about the report. But, such a move could prove beneficial for both parties. Apple Music has been a laggard in its space, and a partnership with iHeartRadio could propel it toward Pandora at a moment when Pandora is nearing an acquisition by SiriusXM. For iHeart, close ties could Apple could make it a more desired app, leaving Entercom’s Radio.com and Townsquare Media’s RadioPup further behind.
The Financial Times report led to a banner day for penny stock iHeart. Some 1.11 million shares were traded for “IHRTQ”; its average volume is just 17,550 shares.
The bargain seekers helped iHeart stock climb 12 cents, to $0.49.
But, an early jump out of the day as the report hit had iHeart stock as high as $1.16 by 10am, before settling down in the noon hour.