Broadcasters have long sought to make the radio available on mobile phones. Last week, the industry finally won a deal with Sprint Nextel to make local FM radio signals receivable on some cellphones.
It’s the first such deal with a phone carrier and Jeffrey Smulyan, Chief Executive of Emmis Communications, made it his mission to “get radio in 300 million cellphones.” He believes that radio listening could increase 15 percent if it was made accessible on mobile phones.
The three-year deal will see Sprint make FM radio available on some of its Android and Windows phones by using the NextRadio application. The app is designed by Emmis and currently owns 21 stations from around the U.S.
Although this is a big win for radio broadcasters, analysts are still skeptical whether cellphone users will adopt the app. With ads-free digital music service apps like Spotify, Last.fm, and Grooveshark, and also radio streaming apps like TuneIn and iHeartRadio, it’s uncertain if consumers will be interested to listen to the local FM station.