Sirius XM and Pandora Have a New Threat: TuneIn

TuneIn internet radio

Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) and Pandora (NYSE:P) face competition from a relatively new kid on the block — privately held TuneIn“Half of all radio listening happens in the car, and yet we only get 70 options when we get into the car,” said TuneIn’s CEO John Donham. “We see it as a huge opportunity and we’re trying to get into as many models as possible.” That is TuneIn’s competitive advantage — options its competition cannot match.

Unlike Sirius, which has a set number of “stations” like traditional radio, and the generated playlists of Pandora, TuneIn lets you choose your own stream. The company’s model is significantly different in that it shares revenue with existing broadcasters, reports the LA Times. Of course, there are still ads. TuneIn reaches its listeners by offering a website and an iPhone app.

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The company recently announced via its blog that “ Today, we announced that we raised a $25 million round of funding led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), with participation from our existing business partners Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, and General Catalyst Partners. We also announced we have surpassed one billion listening hours in the first four months of 2013, with over 227 million listening sessions in the month of March alone, making us the world’s number one source for live, online radio.” Impressive figures.

Still, Pandora and Sirius XM have their own advantages. Pandora’s service build playlists based on what it thinks its listeners will enjoy and is a growing way for new artists to be discovered by a larger audience. Pandora also has a paid subscription service with no ads. Sirius owns a network of satellites in orbit and can reach places with no 3G or 4G Internet connection via cell towers.

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TuneIn is aggressively trying to increase its market share and directly compete against Sirius XM and Pandora. The company has signed deals with General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F), Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA), and others. The TuneIn streaming service is available in 30 car models. By comparison, Pandora is available in 50. Who will win the battle of in-car audio entertainment?

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