When Apple launched the Beats 1 radio station in 2015, it arrived as the first-ever streaming-only 24-hour radio station. More than three years in, the company may be seeking to infiltrate more traditional airwaves.
According to a Financial Times report, Apple is in early-stage talks with the troubled US radio giant iHeartMedia over a potential investment or partnership.
The report says the tie-in could see Apple expand Beats 1 beyond streaming and into traditional broadcasting. This would reportedly help the company attract older audiences, while improving awareness among folks who still listen to FM/AM/XM radio in their cars and kitchens. iHeartMedia could facilitate the move, thanks to its ownership of 850 stations across the United States.
Related: Apple Music vs Spotify
One music executive told the FT any deal would be considered a “power move” by Apple in its music streaming battle with Spotify. Apple Music has reportedly overtaken Spotify in terms of paid US subscriptions, but it trails the Swedish firm significantly on the global stage.
Unlike Apple Music, Spotify also has a free ad-funded tier it users to attract listeners to its paid Premium subscriptions. Beats 1 has an impressive line-up of big-name DJs is free to stream via the Apple Music app or within iTunes, but the company is yet to announce listenership figures.
iHeartMedia, which you’ll probably know better as the iHeartRadio product, finds itself in an astonishing $20 billion debt, as it struggles to keep up with streaming services exactly like Apple Music and Spotify.
One person familiar with the talks says the bankrupt company wants Apple to invest “tens of millions of dollars”, while another says the tie-in could result in a marketing partnership. Both companies have declined to comment.
Do you think Beats 1 would be less of an afterthought it it had a dedicated home on your FM dial? Or would a move to traditional radio completely negate the original premise? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.