iHeartRadio has just announced that it has now reached 80 million registered users. With more and more listeners tuning in, how does the second largest online radio service differ from its biggest rival and top U.S. streamer Pandora?
The iHeartRadio platform is unique in the streaming world in that it leverages the content of the 858 terrestrial radio stations owned by its parent company, iHeartMedia, formerly known as Clear Channel Communications, into a music streaming app.
While most observers would consider iHeartRadio most similar to Pandora among all of its rivals, the integration of hundreds of the company's local radio stations along with numerous others puts it in a category of its own.
While Pandora has been criticized for lack of a human element in its presentation, iHeartRadio allows users to access not only music but also the human commentary and personality that accompany it on whatever local station listeners choose. For example, listeners to New York's Z100 and other iHeart channels can hear their local Morning Zoo DJ's, weather reports and more, including of course, the accompanying advertisements.
iHeartRadio also offers Pandora-like platform choices like talk-free, genre-based music stations as well as the ability for users to create personalized custom stations based on their favorite artists and songs. Unlike Pandora, which has, both free and paid, commercial-free tiers, all iHeartRadio offerings are free.
While it does not offer on-demand listening like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and others, iHeartRadio, like Pandora, is not subject to the whims of artists who can refuse to allow some or their entire catalogue to be played on their on-demand rivals. Thus, iHeartRadio and Pandora both have a competitive advantage in their ability to play all tracks from the latest albums by Adele, Taylor Swift and others.
Because the company also represents many of the most listened-to U.S. radio stations, it receives the support of many of the world's biggest pop stars, who regularly play its annual iHeartRadio Music Festival in Nevada. Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, Drake, Katy Perry, Coldplay, Maroon 5, One Direction and Rihanna are just some of the many artists that have appeared at the televised event, along with rock icons such as Elton John and Paul McCartney.
The service is also available in more than 80 digital platforms including PlayStation, TiVo, and the latest announced Apple TV.
The company claims that its number of active users and time spent listening to the platform have both doubled in the past year, although iHeartRadio still has a long way to go in terms of competing in listener volume with chief online radio rival Pandora, which currently has a reported 250 million registered users.