Emmis has helped lead the effort to convince wireless companies to offer over-the-air FM reception of local radio signals; the Sprint development is seen as its first big win. For such reception to be possible, though, the consumer will need an app to play that content. Multiple companies could develop such apps.
Emmis has been working on its NextRadio app in hopes it will be adopted by others in radio. The app will allow playback of all local FM signals but also provide access to enhanced features that connect to a multitude of content types on the Internet.
Asked whether NextRadio was part of the Sprint agreement, Brenner said, “NextRadio has been presented as a universal FM radio application with the ability to present a common-listener experience and mobile advertising features synchronized with over-the-air radio. Sprint will launch with NextRadio because they need a single party to represent this commercialized application.”
In addition to the ad time promised by the agreement, Sprint will receive 30 percent of the revenue from ads on the app. Emmis will manage that traffic, make sure Sprint gets its money and receive a small management fee, presumably from broadcasters that use the app. The yet-unspecified fee would apply only to stations that use Emmis’ TagStation software in conjunction with the the NextRadio app; conceivably, stations could do this on their own instead, but they would need to develop an app that complies with Sprint’s specs, he said.