Pandora Finally Passes Apple's iTunes Radio Test

Pandora surpasses the number of unique listeners it had in September.

Jan 6, 2014 at 1:13PM

You won't find Pandora's (NYSE:P) remains at the end of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes Radio blade.

For the first time since Apple's iTunes Radio launched in mid-September, Pandora has surpassed the number of unique listeners that it attracted that month. The leading music streaming service drew 76.2 million active listeners in December, 13% ahead of where it was a year earlier. This also breaks Pandora's record of active listeners established three months earlier.

Pandora bears have been arguing that Apple's similar ad-supported free streaming service platform is eating into the market. It certainly seemed to play out that way at first when Pandora saw active listeners dip from 72.7 million in September to 70.9 million in October. The sequential dip wasn't a seasonal thing, as the listener number had moved higher in prior years. Clearly the arrival of iTunes Radio two weeks into September was weighing on its magnetism. Pandora's draw improved to 72.4 million unique listeners in November, but it was still short of September's tally.

The silver lining during October and November was that the average Pandora listener was tuning in longer, but it was naturally going to be problematic if the audience had peaked in September. As of this morning we know that it did not happen. Pandora's 76.2 million active listeners at the end of December point to a company moving in the right direction again.

Apple doesn't provide comparable monthly metrics, but it had no problem bragging about serving up 1 billion tunes to 20 million listeners during its first several weeks of availability. 

Pandora isn't the speedster that it used to be. Listener hours and active listeners in December rose just 13% over the past year. However, Pandora's gotten much better at milking more ad and subscription revenue out of its fan base. Revenue climbed 50% in its latest quarter even though Pandora served up just 17% more content. These dynamics should help deliver strong top-line growth at Pandora in the near term.

Apple's arrival may have led a few curious PC and iOS users to kick the tires of iTunes Radio, but Apple has likely expanded the potential market for streaming services by validating the medium and educating the masses. Apple is also likely helping Pandora by justifying advertisers' paying up to place 15- and 30-second audio ads in music streams. A new in-car advertising platform that Pandora is launching today will also keep the streaming star growing. 

The beat goes on at Pandora.

Tune into another stock that's pumping up the volume in 2014
There's a huge difference between a good stock, and a stock that can make you rich. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014, and it's one of those stocks that could make you rich. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Pandora Media. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers