Pandora CEO: iTunes Radio launch caused usage to drop at first, but now 'we continue to grow'

Pandora saw a small drop in usage after the launch of iTunes Radio in September 2013, the company revealed on its earnings call on Wednesday. But now it's getting back on track.

"We're very proud of the fact that, despite some real competitive companies, like most notably iTunes Radio, coming out [in 2013], while it certainly had an impact on us, we continue to grow," Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews said.

Pandora confirmed to Pocket-lint that it saw a -2.6 per cent drop in active listeners in the first month after Apple's iTunes Radio launch, which it attributed to "some users experimenting with the new service". Months later however Pandora has more active listeners than it did before the iTunes Radio launch: 73.4 million during January. Compare that to the service's 72.1 million active listeners during August.

iTunes Radio was launched by Apple inside of iOS 7 to provide similar functionality to Pandora. Users are able to skip tracks in a limited manner like Pandora, customise stations, and buy the station's songs from the iTunes Store. Because iTunes Radio is embedded inside iOS, many assumed it would have had an effect on Pandora's user base.

"But the engagement of existing users tends to pick up as we move to the new year and that's exactly what happened, so we feel really good about where we sit right now," Pandora CFO Mike Herring said. "Honestly, other than the small impact, the modest impact we saw after the iTunes Radio launch a few months ago, we really don't see, at our scale, any measurable impacts from other competitors out there."

Listeners at Pandora are becoming more engaged, listening to 1.58 billion listener hours in January compared to 1.35 billion hours in August, the company says. We've contacted Pandora to learn more about engagement through its iOS app to see if it has taken a hit following iTunes Radio's launch, and we'll update if we hear back.

Apple revealed that iTunes Radio, which is not available worldwide, reached 20 million users and listened in to a billion songs within five weeks after its launch. The company hasn't provided an update on usage numbers in recent months. We've contacted the company to learn more. 

Which do you prefer: Pandora or iTunes Radio?



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