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iHeartradio on the future of Internet radio and automotive integration

 Up until the advent of streaming audio, the terrestrial radio has been a principle source of entertainment in car for more than seven decades. However, today,  car radio is no longer alone in the dash, but a part of an overall information and entertainment platform. With the ubiquitous availability of Internet, it is now possible to have music, news feeds, ads straight to your dashboard. Consumers no longer have to live unhappily with the irritating ‘hiss-like’ distortion while listening to their favourite radio stations.

Ryan Goff_iHEartRadio_Clear_Channel_Internet_Radio_Automotive_Infotainment

No matter if your near the Pyramids of Egypt or the Leaning Tower of Pisa; you may still be able to listen to a retro Indian melody. Internet radio makes it possible for all. Internet radio involves the delivery of audio programming via digital means from one computer to other computers over the internet. It involves both simulcast of existing over-the-air radio stations and content from internet-only stations.  Unlike broadcast radio which is an audio-only medium, Internet radio stations are free to offer interactive programming and can include images, animation, and even video. Whereas broadcast radio relies on estimating the size of audiences via ratings, Internet radio can measure each time a user accesses a particular page or program an din many cases can provide detailed demographic data about the people visiting their sites. Sounds interesting…. Doesn’t it? 🙂

Inspired to explore this is in detail, Telematics Wire interviewed Ryan Goff of iHeartRadio, a wholly-owned Internet radio platform by Clear Channel Media. At iHeartRadio, Ryan is responsible for managing all the automotive relationships on a technical level to ensure that they’re able to integrate with the variety of systems that each automotive OEM partner has to offer. Shortly after graduating from Purdue University in 2002, he started working in the automotive industry for a Tier 1 supplier to automakers  such as GM, Ford and Toyota, focusing on Audio Infotainment Interfaces.

Let’s see what Ryan has to share with us

What according to you is driving the in-car infotainment and connected vehicle market globally?

While I cannot speak from a global perspective, generally the rising consumer behavior of being in a constantly connected world and the increasing availability of a robust 4G LTE network in-vehicle in the US is what is driving the convergence of in-car infotainment and the connected market.

While there are a lot of Internet radio platforms available in the market globally, what makes iHeartRadio unique?

iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s industry-leading digital radio service, is currently only available in-car across the United States. It is the only all-in-one digital radio and streaming music platform that delivers more than 1,500 live broadcast radio stations as well as offers the ability to hear professionally curated playlists, user-created Custom Stations based on an artist or song and on demand Shows & Personalities segments.

In a race where every automotive OEM is trying to integrate Internet radio in their vehicles, what challenges does iHeartRadio face in serving them all?

Our goal is to be everywhere our consumers are with the products and services they expect. The Automobile is of course a natural fit for us and our Live Radio stations are found in just about every vehicle already through the AM/FM radio. We are working hard to implement our digital iHeartRadio platform into these cars everyday so that our listeners will never drive out of range of their favorite radio stations. We understand that it’s not possible to integrate into every platform out there all at once, so we strategically review and choose the solutions which are going to take us the furthest in our commitment to our consumers and provide the best user experience.

Are there any limiting factors which need to be addressed for Internet radio to have a global outreach?

The primary factor is that the licensing laws and regulations vary from region to region, making it difficult to easily implement globally. Beyond licensing, the next largest barrier for Internet radio in the car is the availability of a robust and expanded cellular data LTE network, which is still unavailable in most of the regions.

At present, infotainment and in-car apps are only available in a niche segment of high-end automobiles. Do you see this trend changing in days to come?

Absolutely. There is a shift happening with an increased focus of applications integration. Technology changes so quickly, making more simple and less costly approaches available more widely.   It will really come down to the approach, utilizing the tethered handset or implementing a more expensive systems that provide more options including an embedded application integration with a unique technology.

Having already been acclaimed as the ‘the best streaming radio app’, what is the roadmap ahead for iHeartRadio?

Our strategy is to be everywhere where our listeners are. We will continue to grow and expand, and in parallel also work to refine the existing experiences to make them even more seamless and easy to use.

Do you think there is a need to create awareness amongst the community about Internet radio and its huge potential?

While Clear Channel has an overall reach of more than 245 million people in the United States with more than 840 owned and operated radio stations, there is always room for further awareness and exposure. We are constantly looking to innovate in the field and bring the best possible product to consumers.

What according to you would drive the future of Internet radio in the automotive industry?

Mass availability, ease of use and a great user experience that works seamlessly with your routine, while not distracting you from the most important task at hand, which is to get safely from Point A to Point B.

This interview has originally been published in the My-June issue of Smart Automotive print magazine. To read it online, please click here. 🙂

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