In what feels like an earnest push in legitimizing the newly released iTunes Radio as a true radio presence, NPR and Apple have flipped a switch making the popular talk radio station freely available through the internet platform. NPR is the first talk station to be featured on iTunes Radio. In the long term Apple and NPR hope to deliver an “expanded listening experience” that will provide “content from your local station blended seamlessly with NPR programming.”
No money was exchanged in the deal to bring iTunes Radio and NPR together. Unlike other programs and music featured on the iTunes Radio, NPR content is not available for purchase.
What are Apple’s motivations?
iTunes Radio is, no doubt, trying to contend with the Pandora music streaming service. Featuring NPR content suggests that terrestrial radio and isolated streaming services and aggregators could also be on Apple’s mind. Could iTunes Radio eventually be the funnel that ultimately aggregates major terrestrial broadcasts as well as internet streams? To preserve the widespread relevance, necessity and reliance on iTunes, radio functionality could be big deal.
“Such a move on Apple’s part would make sense, considering recent trends. According to a January report from Nielsen, overall U.S. music sales are down by 6.3%, but music-streaming services have grown by 32% since 2012.”
A future iteration of iTunes Radio may offer Spotify-like instant streaming services. That appears to be next on the radar…