TuneIn Introduces Paid Tier With MLB Matches, Audio Books to Take On Satellite Radio

Internet radio platform TuneIn introduced a new premium tier Tuesday, offering paying users access to ad-free radio streams as well as full-length audio books and live sports. TuneIn CEO John Donham said in an interview Monday that this was a first step to more squarely compete with Sirius XM. “Our goal is to become that new premium radio,” he said.

TuneIn’s new premium tier, which costs consumers $7.99 per month, comes with ad-free streams from 600 internet radio stations like Digitally Imported and Jazzradio.com at launch. Donham said that the company will add terrestrial broadcasters in the near future as well. TuneIn is working with broadcasters to replace aired ads with songs on the fly, with DJs of each station selecting what listeners get to hear in lieu of the dreaded ad break.

TuneIn also partnered with Penguin Books, Random House, Harper Collins and Scholastic to add 40,000 full-length audio books to its paid tier.

A third component of the pair service is live sports: TuneIn has struck a multi-year deal with MLB to broadcast every game in both English and Spanish across all of its platforms to paying subscribers, and will be adding Premier League and Bundesliga broadcasts as well. Donham said that more than 18 million people already listen to live sports via TuneIn per month, and added that the World Cup was the company’s biggest live event last year.

TuneIn is going live with its premium package in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. this week, and will add additional countries in the coming months. However, Donham promised that the company’s free tier with its 100,000 radio stations won’t go away anytime soon. Instead, he compared the business model to Spotify, which has both a free and a paid tier. TuneIn reaches more than 50 million monthly active users with its free service, Donham said.

Under the hood, TuneIn’s model is a bit more complex that Spotify’s, in part because the company pays different rates for each type of usage. Publishers like Penguin get paid for every book a listener consumes, whereas internet and terrestrial broadcasters get a variable rate based on the consumption of their streams. Broadcasters will get more money from a paid than a free stream on TuneIn, explained Donham.

Asked whether TuneIn wants to more directly compete paid music services, Donham replied that the real competitor is paid satellite radio with its 28 million paying subscribers. TuneIn is heading down a very similar path as Sirius XM, he argued, which will also include adding more premium content in the coming months, he said, adding: “The more exclusive the better.”

More Digital

  • Mokalik

    Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t Be ‘Second-Class’

    DURBAN–A young boy from a middle-class home gets an unconventional schooling in the ways of the world when he’s forced to apprentice at a mechanic’s workshop in a rough-and-tumble section of Lagos. “Mokalik” is the latest feature from Kunle Afolayan, a leading figure in the wave of filmmakers revitalizing the Nigerian film industry. The film [...]


    SAG-AFTRA Ends Long Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty

    SAG-AFTRA has ended its 10-month strike against Bartle Bogle Hegarty after the advertising agency agreed to sign the union’s new commercials contract. The union instructed its 160,000 members in September not to accept any work for BBH, which had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts since 1999. The strike came two weeks after BBH publicly [...]

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    ARRI, Mobile TV Group Back New Venture Revitalizing Streamed Concerts

    A new venture looking to bring a fresh approach to live-streaming concerts has gotten the backing of hardware heavyweights ARRI and Mobile TV Group. Wide+Close is launching with the mandate of shooting music performances with film cameras and cinematographers in order to give the content a more cinematic feel. “We want to take concert filming [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Plans to Expand to Brazil, Other Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roku plans to expand to multiple new territories in the coming months, Variety has learned. One of the first new markets for the company will likely be Brazil. An international expansion could help Roku grow its customer base, which in turn should lead to growing advertising revenues. Roku executives have been hinting at plans to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content