Internet Radio Showdown: iTunes Radio vs. Pandora
Internet radio and streaming services are still on the rise and we took a look at the numbers from the Recording Industry Association of America last time along with sentiment data from internet radio users on Knotch. For a primer give that a read here.
It’s been almost a year since Apple announced their plan to dive into the internet radio business with iTunes Radio, but how are they doing, especially in comparison to the top services? Today, we’ll take a look at the numbers and the sentiment data behind iTunes Radio and see how they compare to the top player on the market, Pandora.
iTunes Radio launched last September in conjunction with the release of Apple’s latest operating system iOS7 and a lot of users gave it a try as soon as it was available. Apple announced in October of 2013 that over 20 million had listened to more than a billion tracks in the first month, which is roughly 58 million hours of music. Not a bad start, but did the growth continue?
As of March iTunes Radio was knocking on the door for the second spot in internet radio share with 8% trailing iHeart Radio by just 1%.
That estimates to roughly 19.4 million active users. This implies that the initial bang after launch was a lot of people testing the service out. This is confirmed further by the listening hours statistics comparing iTunes’ 58 million hours to Pandora statistics. In one month Pandora users streamed 1.51 billion hours or 25 times that of iTunes Radio. That’s a huge difference, especially when you look at Pandora’s active users. 75.3 million people used Pandora, just 4 times amount of people listened to 25 times more music.
Pandora is still leading the way by a large margin in internet radio share with 31% and while iTunes took a slight chunk of their listeners early on last fall, it doesn’t appear like they have provided any sustained growth or positioned themselves as the “Pandora Killer”.
How do users feel about the two services though? Here’s a side by side look at Knotch’s data regarding the two services.
Pandora users appear to be much more loyal, while iTunes Radio seems to be a good service, but not great or a go to for most people, but a solid backup plan. Indeed, some of the comments on the service say just that.
The main complaint as to be expected when flipping through Knotchers’ comments on Pandora are the limited skips. When going through the Knotches very few actually talked about subscribing to the service, which is something talked about much more about Spotify, more on that in a different post.
For both of these services the real question is how will they adapt? Apple has already admitted that they need to make changes to the service to make it accessible on more devices. Also, the revenue model which is trying to get people to either sign up for iTunes Match, which eliminates ads or to buy the tracks, which only Apple estimates only 1 to 2 percent of people are doing, isn’t working.
For Pandora, how will they adapt to a slowing of growth? Pandora’s growth dipped adding just 2.4 million net users this year compared to 9.4 a year ago. The other issue that seems to be plaguing Pandora is their limited library of around 800,000 songs while iTunes Radio has the whole of iTunes, which dwarfs that in comparison. Pandora may be holding the top spot for now, but will it be able to hold off Spotify and others for long?