Apple Reportedly in Preliminary Talks to Acquire Stake in US Radio Group iHeartMedia

Apple has reportedly held preliminary talks to acquire a stake in the largest U.S. radio group, iHeartMedia, in a bid to boost its streaming service.

According to a new report from the Financial Times, talks between the two companies are currently at a preliminary stage and no deal has yet been agreed upon.

The newspaper added that a source said iHeartMedia, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, is hoping that the iPhone-maker will take an equity stake worth tens of millions of dollars. Another source suggested that the tie-up could result in a multimillion-dollar marketing partnership instead of a direct investment.

A partnership between Apple and iHeartMedia would not only buy the latter more time but could see Beats 1, Apple’s station that is currently only available through iTunes and the Apple Music app, on broadcast radio for the first time.

“Extra distribution would give Beats 1 and Apple Music greater awareness among older audiences who are later adopters of streaming services,” reads the report. “A deal would also put the Apple station into more cars or kitchens.”

One industry executive told the FT that this would be a “power move” for Apple, which could also benefit in its efforts to sign more exclusive deals with major artists.

iHeartMedia runs iHeartRadio, broadcasting live across a network of 850 traditional local stations in the United States, as well as aggregating its own and rival broadcast radio channels for online listening.

Though the growth of Apple’s iPod helped kill demand for conventional radio throughout the mid-2000s, iHeartMedia chased what was left of the business, building listening apps for over 90 devices. That process left the company bankrupt as of March 2018, however, with $20 billion USD in debt.