Yahoo launches online radio service

Yahoo has capped its acquisition of Broadcast.com by announcing Yahoo Radio, its own online radio station which delivers broadcast audio programming from Internet music provider Spinner.com.

Registered Yahoo users can tune into Yahoo Radio's programming stations around the clock. Yahoo Radio works with Real Player G2 on all browsers, but doesn't currently support rival media players such as Microsoft's WMT 4.0.

While Yahoo officials won't comment on future partnerships, the RealPlayer deal is not exclusive and Yahoo may add rival streaming platforms. "We would base those decisions on user feedback," says Erik Schwartz, senior producer for Yahoo Radio.

"What we are doing with Yahoo Radio really isn't new," Schwartz adds. "The only difference from real radio is the broadcasting medium."

Mirroring traditional radio stations, Yahoo Radio includes station identification and advertising, according to company officials. Music formats include Alternative Rock, Electronica, Jazz, Country, Rhythm & Blues, Classical and Oldies.

Yahoo Radio also offers artist and genre links to Yahoo Music, the company's hub for music reviews, charts, news and commerce. Yahoo Music stocks information on more than 51,000 performers, 125,000 albums, and 1 million songs.

The launch of Yahoo Radio also demonstrates growing consolidation among Internet radio providers and major Web portals. Lycos launched the Lycos Radio Network with Westwind Media last month. Unlike Yahoo Radio, the Lycos network integrates video feeds simulcast with songs.

"This is certainly the kind of integration we can expect to see more of," says Lucas Graves, a Web technology analyst with Jupiter Communications. "The portals are matching eyeballs with services."

Traditional media companies are also moving into the Internet radio space. Broadcasting giant Viacom purchased Imagine Radio in February. Viacom plans to use the property as the foundation for an upcoming online music destination, tentatively called the "Buggles Project".

Microsoft, not to be outdone, integrated a radio toolbar into the latest version of its Internet Explorer browser. Users can select the radio toolbar from the Tools menu and play streaming audio without opening a separate program.

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