News this week makes it clear once again that Slacker has turned its attention to becoming a content aggregator. Slacker has been building its network for a while now. In March of this year they announced a deal that added ESPN Radio in the form of an interactive channel. Last summer they added ABC News in segments that listeners can add into their music listening experience, or listen to as a channel with the ability to skip through segments. Now they will add AOL Radio in an interactive offering as well.
RadioInk is reporting that all of the audience and associated royalties will belong to Slacker. The two companies will work together on developing ad dollars, no doubt there is a revenue share in place.
What’s interesting about this is that it’s the first content partnership that adds music content from an outside brand that is remarkably similar to what Slacker already has. It’s this fact that makes me think this signals a business model shift for Slacker. I think they’re deciding to be a content aggregator, or Internet radio network of branded content rather than a creator of content.
Slacker does create lots of content itself, in recent months they have announced the launch of some new Hispanic channels, and they have offered comedy channels for several years.
Nonetheless, it looks like Slacker’s new strategy puts focus on bringing content from bigger brands into its network of offerings. They can offer those brands a nice infrastructure – they have a strong mobile offering and developed relationships withwireless carriers. At a recent conference in California, Slacker CEO Jim Cady said that Slacker would be pre-installed on 52 million mobile handsets this year alone as a result of those deals. Listeners can upgrade easily and pay the monthly fee with their phone bill. I suspect that’s very attractive to AOL Radio.
Cady said that Slacker has 26 million listeners, by which we can assume he was referring to registered users (which is not the same as listeners). With this deal with AOL Radio, Slacker VP Jonathan Sasse said their audience will double. That’s a lot more listeners and a big win for Slacker..