Spotify competitor Rdio just struck a deal with Cumulus Media to offer free, ad-supported music streaming, but the company’s plans go much further: Outgoing Rdio CEO Drew Larner told me during an interview Monday that it wants to bundle its Vdio service, which streams movies and TV shows, and Rdio’s music as part of a global subscription offering.
Rdio and Vdio are operated by the same company, but the two services are very differently priced: Rdio operates a Spotify-like music subscription service, and Vdio sells access to TV shows and movies as rentals and digital purchases. But eventually, the two offerings may be a lot more complementary. “We want to transition Vdio towards a subscription offer,” said Larner, without going into details about when this might happen.
This move would also more closely follow the vision that Janus Friis, the co-founder of Skype and founder of Rdio and Vdio, originally had in mind for the video service. Vdio intially set out to take on Netflix, but transitioned to a VOD model after an unreleased first version was scrapped. Speaking about Friis, Larner told me:
“Janus’ vision is to have a global entertainment streaming platform.”
Larner went on to say that Vdio and Rdio likely wouldn’t become a single product, as it would make sense to provide separate offerings for people who — for example — already subscribe to Netflix and are just looking for a digital music service. Bundled pricing is more likely, giving users a way to get access to both music and video streams for one monthly fee, something that according to Larner would help Rdio to differentiate itself from the rest of the market.
Rdio announced a deal with Cumulus Media earlier Monday that gives the radio network a “significant” stake in Rdio. In exchange, Rdio is going to use Cumulus’ advertising folks to sell ad spots for its upcoming free offering, which will launch in Q4 this year. Cumulus will also promote Rdio on air as well as on its online properties, and Larner said that this could be used to promote Vdio or a joint offering as well.
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