RealTime IT News

AOL to Launch Into Space

America Online continued to expand the boundaries of its Internet service this week, adding its latest wrinkle Monday when the company announced plans to launch a Web-based radio service with XM Satellite Radio.

The co-branded radio service is expected to bulk up AOL's radio offerings at a time when competition in the Internet radio market is taking off. Industry heavyweights like Yahoo and RealNetworks, as well as established broadcast radio players, already have the jump on the Internet portal company.

"This relationship creates important and valuable opportunities across our core businesses enabling us to provide unique value for our large Web audience, enhanced programming for our existing and new AOL members, and the ability to introduce new premium services," AOL said in a statement.

The service will offer 200 channels streamed over the Web in high-quality sound for a monthly fee of $5. It will combine existing stations from both partners that will roll out this summer, according to the companies.

AOL already offers about 200 radio stations to its paying subscribers and will not charge extra for the added services. XM Radio, the leading player in satellite radio, currently operates 70 online radio channels.

"Our philosophy at XM has always been to work with strong partners at every level: retail, automotive, and now online to build awareness and subscriptions for XM. We are thrilled to be partnering with AOL and combining the creative resources of these two great companies," Hugh Panero, XM Satellite Radio president and CEO, said.

The 150 radio stations that will be available for free to all AOL Web users will only be offered with lower-quality audio.

Although XM Radio's 3.8 million subscribers will have access only to XM's online stations, some AOL programming will be available on XM's stations, according to company spokeswoman Ann Burkart.

The service will include a free, Web radio offering and an enhanced premier radio offering that will be available to AOL members at no additional charge and as a premium service to consumers on the Web, according to AOL.