Big changes are coming to streaming music at Apple this month. As of January 28, the only free streaming music channel available from Apple will be Beats 1. The company plans to remove ad-supported iTunes Radio channels, bringing them into the Apple Music fold instead. In two weeks, the free channels will only be available with an Apple Music subscription.
Starting today, Apple users can listen to the live ESPN Radio network stream on their iPhone, iPad and iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later. ESPN Radio is the first sports provider on iTunes Radio, and it will stream the same content as its terrestrial radio counterparts.
Sports fans will be able to enjoy sports talk shows including Mike & Mike, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, SVP & Russillo, just to name a few, and live events like the 2014 FIFA World Cup and Major League Baseball, including the World Series. ESPN said they are also looking to "bring expanded local station content to its listeners in the future," and noted that its ESPN podcasts and on-demand content will still be available for download on iTunes.
Apple helped put digital music on the map with the iPod in 2001, but according to Nielsen SoundScan, iTunes music downloads have fallen for the first time since the device's release. This is most likely due to the rise in popularity of free music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. Apple released its own streaming service in 2013 to compete with its competitors, but iTunes Radio hasn't seem to put a dent in the now crowded music streaming market.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is now working with Shazam Entertainment Ltd. to create a "song-discovery feature" which will allow iOS users to identify a song and its artist while using their iPhone or iPad. Shazam is known for its popular free music recognition iOS app that also identifies music and TV.
NPR today announced that it has become the first news provider to join iTunes Radio. The 24-hour stream will include national newscasts, stories from Morning Edition and All Things Considered, plus other previously recorded programming, according to blog post.
This is the first non-music station offered by iTunes Radio, and it is unclear if Apple plans to add more talk radio stations in future. It is also unknown how Apple and NPR are going to share the revenue brought in by ads. Apple normally pays recording artists for the rights to use their music on the ad-supported streaming service.
Predictions of Pandora's demise at the hands of iTunes Radio are premature according to the results of a recent survey. The report, cited by AppleInsider, was produced by investment bank Canaccord Genuity. The company explained that iTunes Radio and Pandora can peacefully coexist, while taking "tremendous share" away from broadcast radio.
As it turns out, while 72 percent of those surveyed had installed iOS 7, only 40 percent of that group had tuned into iTunes Radio. When it comes to ditching Pandora entirely for Apple's new service, eight percent were in that category, with 44 percent listening to both services equally. So why are iOS 7 users sticking with Pandora, despite the integration of iTunes Radio into the stock Music app?