The Polarization of NextRadio

As industry forces continue to grapple with radio’s digital transition, the medium’s push for renewed portability got a bit more complicated this summer. Not much of a surprise that the discourse surrounding the NextRadio app mimics similar forays into the new: lovers and haters lining up with little air to breathe between them.

The latest developments began with the launch last month of Free Radio On My Phone, a public-awareness campaign for enabling FM reception in smartphones. The campaign is a joint project of NextRadio, the National Association of Broadcasters, National Public Radio, American Public Radio, and the Educational Media Foundation—all heavy-hitters in commercial, public, and religious broadcasting. EMF has also agreed to sign its entire station-roster up for enhanced NextRadio services. Read More

NextRadio: On the Move?

Perhaps the most interesting news on the digital radio front to come out of the NAB’s annual convention this year was the progress report on NextRadio. The Emmis-developed app works as an analog FM radio tuner on selected Android smartphones and was initially rolled out on the Sprint network last year; radio stations can also subscribe to a companion service to push related content to mobile listeners.

As of this month, NextRadio reported that the app had been downloaded more than 400,000 times through Google Play and has a 32% retention rate (meaning one-third of those who downloaded NextRadio continued to use it after a month). Some T-Mobile users have also successfully reported installing the app, and its developers say more phones are forthcoming with NextRadio pre-installed. Read More

HD Radio in 2014: More Baby Steps—Toward What?

As the year rolled over, a variety of news-bits came out about the state of HD Radio in the United States.

Moving On: HD Radio’s now been around for a quarter-century. The initial development of the in-band, on-channel (IBOC) protocol that constitutes HD broadcasting first began as a science project under the auspices of Westinghouse in 1989. It’s been a long, strange trip since then: overpromising, underdelivering, crash-development, and finally a "workable" protocol. This process has constituted a career for some people—one of whom is now tending greener pastures. Read More

Radio’s Sprint Deal: NextRadio Launches

If you missed it: last month Sprint made good on its commitment to provide analog FM radio reception in selected smartphones. More importantly, the NextRadio app developed by Emmis Communications to make it useful was formally released to the public.

The initial deal between Sprint and U.S. broadcasters calls for Sprint to sell 30 million FM radio-capable smartphones over the next three years, on which the NextRadio app will be preinstalled. In exchange, the radio industry will pay Sprint $15 million dollars a year in advertising inventory and give the carrier a 30% cut of any revenue NextRadio generates. Read More

Sprint’s Radio Deal: Some Context

More details have emerged about Sprint’s deal with broadcasters to include FM receiver functionality in some of its mobile devices. In simple terms, broadcasters have cobbled together a package of subsidies to the nation’s #3 wireless carrier in order to buy access to that market.

Sprint will enable FM radio reception capability in at least 30 million phones over the next three years, using Emmis Communication’s NextRadio app as the interface.

In exchange, broadcasters will pay Sprint 30% of any "interactive" advertising revenue generated via the app on those phones. Emmis sweetened the deal by pledging Sprint $45 million in advertising inventory over three years ($15 million per year, allocated quarterly). Read More