NBR shifts its free radio service to iHeartRadio platform, removes ads from mobile site

A few months back, Radio New Zealand embarked on a bit of a public/private partnership and put its content on NZME’s iHeartRadio platform (before also snuggling up with MSN). Radio Rhema followed suit. And the National Business Review, which moved into online radio in February and added a personalised ondemand option in March, is the latest to add its name to the list. 

NBR Radio offers a free stream of business news that has been published in print and online and it is hosted by broadcasters Grant Walker, Andrew Patterson and Owen Poland. It also features interviews, panel discussions and talks with NBR reporters. And this free business content will now be available to the more than 365,000 registered users on iHeartRadio on desktop and in iOS, Android and Windows Phone apps.

Publisher Todd Scott says the average time of the stream on a weekday is one-and-a-half hours, but on the weekend, it increases to five hours as it pulls out all the best stories of the week. And, while he admits he’s biased, he says it’s “really, really top notch content”. Like the Radio New Zealand deal, he says no money changed hands. It simply has to push people to the iHeartRadio platform. And he says it makes perfect sense for both parties, because iHeartRadio gets extra content (from a content provider that isn’t MediaWorks), while the NBR gets to use a more stable streaming service without having to pay for an expensive app.   

“It’s a really big play for us,” he says. And he says he never would have thought that six months after launching NBR Radio he would be in a position to be talking about joining iHeartRadio. 

The revolving sponsorships it sells will continue to run on iHeartRadio and, like the Radio New Zealand deal, NZME is able to sell ads around the content on the web platform. 

Its MyNBR Radio service, which offers paying subscribers an on-demand, personalised radio service, remains on the website. 

Now we wait for the obligatory free iHeart Radio concert: business edition. As Scott suggests: “We should go big. Donald Trump.” 

This deal comes at the same time as NBR’s free smartphone trial period ends after attracting 7,500 more subscribers. The smartphone-only sub costs $99 for 12 months. And so far it has 293 paying subscribers, up from 130 in March. All told, Scott says it has 3,279 paying subscribers, plus 355 companies with IP access online. 

He says he’s still optimistic it can get to 4,000 by the end of the year. And, in the long term, it hopes to get to 10,000. 

Scott says it has gone ad free on mobile and removed all but the big banner on the homepage. This, he says, is because the big banner doesn’t work well on mobile. And while he certainly isn’t saying he won’t look at adding an ad or two in the future on mobile, he’s happy with the amount of inventory that remains to be sold. It still runs ads in newsletters (which he says can’t be ad blocked) that go out to around 23,000 in the morning and around 24,000 in the afternoon. 

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