You can stop arguing over the office radio now: internet radio service iHeartRadio has finally gone into open beta in New Zealand.
iHeartRadio is a free service that streams local and overseas radio stations over the internet. In New Zealand it’s run by The Radio Network, but the brand is owned by US parent company Clear Channel.
The service is launching after a bit of a delay – the beta was supposed to go live early this year. But it’s now available in browsers on PCs and Macs, and will be available for iPhone and Android when the product fully launches in September.
The clip featuring a galaxy of TRN stars singing the praises of the new toy was shot and produced by Satellite Media.
iHeartRadio is ad-supported, but New Zealand advertising won’t be featured until the service comes out of beta.
General manager of digital at TRN, Carolyn Luey, says the advertising will include standard banner ads, pre-roll video and pre-roll audio with a static image. That video and audio will be played before a stream starts.
Ads will be different on iHeartRadio to what listeners hear on air, and can even be synced with standard display ads showing on the site or app.
The radio stations currently available for streaming include ZM, Classic Hits, Radio Hauraki, Newstalk ZB and Flava.
However, when the full product launches iHeartRadio users will be able to access Clear Channel’s 850 extra US and Australian channels.
But unlike its extremely successful US counterpart, which has attracted over 30 million users, the local version of iHeartRadio won’t allow TRN competitors to stream their radio stations.
In addition to streaming TRN’s stations, registered users can create their own radio stations. Type in or select an artist from iHeartRadio’s menu, and a radio station will begin to stream that artist’s music, along with tunes from similar artists.
There’s also a ‘Talk’ section, which is a set of podcasts that users can curate and listen to, and a ‘Perfect For’ feature that chooses music depending on what the listener’s doing and what mood they’re in.
iHeartRadio’s ‘create a station’ feature makes it similar to other internet radio services like Pandora, which launched in New Zealand in December and Spotify, which launched in May last year. But TRN isn’t concerned about the competition, says Luey.
“One of the reasons is because the live radio component is quite appealing,” says Luey. “And we already have 1.3 million listeners every week [on live radio].”
Luey says TRN gets 130,000 online listeners across its stations every month, and 800,000 unique visitors to the stations’ websites.
TRN doesn’t have listener figures for iHeartRadio as yet, but it’s committed to the service.
“We will change all our listen live players on our websites to point them to iHeart, so we’re expecting we’ll have at least 130,000 listeners within a month.”
A number of Kiwi musicians already have music on the platform, including Lorde, Avalanche City and Gin Wigmore, but TRN is looking to “enhance that for launch”, Luey says.