New smartphones equipped with FM radio receivers could be available as soon as this summer. “We believe that we’ll have phones in the market probably in the next 60 days,” Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan said yesterday on a conference call in response to a question about when the Emmis-engineered NextRadio app would launch.
Smulyan didn’t mention Sprint by name and an Emmis spokesperson said later that the company has a non-disclosure agreement with the wireless provider. The radio industry is being asked to commit $45 million in advertising inventory to Sprint over three years to get FM on 30 million Android and Windows smartphones. Brokered by Smulyan, the deal revolves around the NextRadio app which will allow listeners to access and interact with FM broadcasts.
Smulyan is optimistic that consumers will embrace the new technology. “If the American public responds as we hope they will, and they see radio can perform in a whole new light on a device they carry with them, we think it’s a game changer for the industry,” he said. Smulyan said it will increase radio listening and could create “a tremendous amount of new revenue” for the industry through enhanced ads enabled by the app’s IP-connection.