Apple Music’s involvement with radio is well-known: its Beats 1 station, with its roster of professional DJs and shows hosted by artists. But it seems Apple may be at least considering deepening its involvement in broadcasting, through a partnership with (or even an investment in) US firm iHeartMedia.
The Financial Times broke the story this morning, which is based on iHeartMedia’s plans for coming out of bankruptcy protection. The report claims that Apple “is among the companies that have talked with iHeartMedia about a deal” while providing extra detail that “iHeartMedia is hoping Apple will take an equity stake worth tens of millions of dollars, according to one person briefed on the talks. Another person suggested that the tie-up could result in a multimillion-dollar marketing partnership rather than a direct investment”.
All of this is just talk(s) for now, as the report makes clear. The implications are interesting though. There’s the potential for iHeartMedia’s radio-streaming service iHeartRadio to be integrated more closely into Apple devices, for example – the HomePod smart speaker in particular might benefit from this.
But a partnership could go the other way too: could Beats 1 be made available through iHeartRadio or even as a full broadcast station, enhancing it as a funnel towards the Apple Music subscription service? But before we let speculation run away with us, a cautionary note about who’s leaked the news of talks between Apple and iHeartMedia, and why – kicking the tyres of potential partnerships would be sensible, but it far from guarantees a deal, and the leak could be as much about smoking out other potential investors.