TuneIn is one of the most popular radio apps on both iOS and Android coupled with an incredible database of live radios around the world. With iHeart Radio, these two services have become the most popular ways to listen to your favorite old school radio using an Internet connection.
Until now, TuneIn only had a pro version of its free mobile app with a recording feature and without any banner ad. But that probably doesn’t bring enough revenue to fund the company.
But what could you add on top of every radio stations in the world? TuneIn isn’t launching yet another music streaming service, it is improving the existing experience by removing audio ads from radio stations. If you are listening to one of the 600 supported music stations, TuneIn surreptitiously replace commercials with music.
It streams songs directly from its servers and the DJs don’t have to select these songs as TuneIn will find songs that you like based on your listening habits. It’s unclear whether TuneIn shares some of its revenue with radio stations as you could call this feature an ad blocker for radio.
Second, TuneIn signed deals with both the Major League Baseball and the Premier League so that you can listen to live play-by-play baseball and soccer games. The company is also launching team-specific stations with analysis on these games.
Finally, TuneIn also signed content deals with book publishers including Penguin Random House and HarperCollins to provide an audiobook library. Subscribers can stream 40,000 audiobooks. This time, TuneIn competes with Scribd, a startup that recently pivoted to provide a sort of Netflix for ebooks and audiobooks.
Will it be enough to convince existing users to start paying? I’m not sure subscribers will like all three features at the same time. Each feature targets a specific use case, and you need to be a heavy user in one of these three categories to find TuneIn Premium compelling. If you listen to a music station every day in your car, removing the ads could be a nice addition. If you are an avid sports fan, these new team-specific radio stations could be nice. And if you buy audiobooks, you might want to try an unlimited subscription service.
TuneIn Premium remains a good move for the company. Now that the subscription service has launched, it will be able to add features and content over time. And who knows, it could become a must-have in just a few months.