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January 27, 2010
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has introduced an Internet radio application for customers with its FiOS TV and FiOS Internet products Tuesday, allowing subscribers to listen to hundreds of radio stations nationwide via the TV or PC.
While the Internet Radio product is available nationwide to FiOS customers who subscribe to both pay TV and high-speed Internet services, Verizon describes the launch as a "beta" offering, noting that it wants to get feedback from subscribers who use it.
Verizon struck a deal with radio giant Clear Channel Communications to use that company’s iHeart Radio app, which gives subscribers access to 387 stations nationwide in 19 genres, including Dance, Active Rock, Country, and Alternative. Subscribers will also be able to use the FiOS TV Media Manager application to add other radio stations to the Internet Radio application, and to listen to them either on a PC or a TV.
“We pre-populate it with over 350 options. But also for folks that are a little more savvy and comfortable with using their computer to customize their TV experience, they can actually go surf the Internet, find that URL with the radio station that they’re most interested in, and add that right into their TV experience,” Joe Ambeault, Verizon's director of consumer product management and entertainment services, tells Cable Digital News.
The Internet Radio application uses the FiOS TV Media Manager platform, which Verizon also uses to allow FiOS customers to program their DVRs remotely. This expands Verizon’s strategy of adding more Web-based content to FiOS TV, following its move last July to add support for Facebook and Twitter Inc. apps. (See Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS.)
The debut of Internet Radio comes as the growth of new FiOS TV and Internet subscribers appears to be hitting a slower pace. Verizon said Tuesday that it added 153,000 net FiOS TV subscribers during the fourth quarter, down from the addition of 191,000 in the third. It also added 153,000 new FiOS Internet subscribers, down from 198,000 in the previous quarter. (See Verizon Wireline Job Cuts Drag on Q4 and FiOS: No Longer a High Flyer?)
With the Internet Radio product in beta, Verizon doesn’t yet have plans to tout the technology in its marketing campaigns. It appears to be more of a subscriber retention tool than a product aimed at driving subscriber acquisition.
Verizon subscribers will need to use both a computer and their FiOS TV remote to get the Internet Radio service running. They can use the Media Manager application to select stations based on location, format, and personalities, in addition to featured stations and “my favorites.” They can also add other radio stations to the FiOS menu by adding the URL for another streaming audio site through the Media Manager app, which supports MP3, WAV, and WMA stream formats.
Ambeault recently discussed Verizon's new Internet radio beta and its social media ambitions on-camera with Cable Digital News. In case you missed it, here's the interview:
— Steve Donohue, Special to Cable Digital News
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