Canadian radio content brought to your BlackBerry

Nation-wide radio station owner Corus Entertainment has partnered with mobile apps developer Viigo, to deliver free content to smartphones – starting with Web site content and eventually on-demand audio, according to company executives.

Nine Corus radio brands will be accessible via Toronto-based Viigo Inc.’s mobile content application for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile smartphones. Content from radio stations in six major cities across Canada will be piped out in RSS feeds through the application.

It’s a new media effort involving a traditional medium, by a company that aims to instill more listener loyalty in an environment awash in entertainment choices.

“Radio is the original wireless technology,” says David Huszar, general manager of interactive and integrated solutions at Toronto-based Corus. “It’s the old style, but I think advent of the Internet was a real boon for radio because it’s [enabled] interacting with audiences in the same way.”

He says radio has long thrived on listener call-in shows, and is using the Internet to reach out to audiences through blog comments, tweets, and now mobile applications.   

Having content from an established entertainment company with in a co-branding effort will help boost Viigo’s visibility, according to CEO Mark Ruddock.

“A mobile app isn’t something that leaps off the page to the average user, especially the BlackBerry user.” Viigo’s strategy, he says, is to enable a person already in love with some radio content to take it with them wherever they go. “Viigo can be the way to do that.”

Viigo’s application taps into a wide swath of RSS feeds, offering 5,000 Internet channels that users can download to their device.

On-demand information includes weather, flight status, stocks information, news and blog feeds, and more. With so wide an offering, Viigo is trying to woo new users with niche marketing drives.

“That content becomes very important to keeping people on Viigo, and then they discover the broad range of additional content,” Ruddock says. “The retention rate has been incredibly high.”

Viigo has been released as a co-branded application with several major news organizations in Canada. That includes The Globe and Mail, National Post, and Metro News.

By doing a co-branded deal with Viigo, Corus is able to slap the logo of its radio stations on the top banner. The application also comes loaded with a customized channel offering quick access to the station’s news updates and blogs. It could also soon include on demand audio.

“That’s a safe bet. We’ve announced audio and its currently in testing,” Ruddock says. “We will likely see the release of audio in the next six weeks.”

Corus recently launched a streaming application on Apple’s iPhone and is interested in delivering audio on the Viigo platform too. It’s an expectation of the audience for that to happen, Huszar says.

“Any chance to get our station streams and our station’s content out to mobile users is something we need to pursue,” he says.

Nine radio stations were made available for download yesterday:

• AM640 TORONTO RADIO in Toronto,
• AM900 CHML in Hamilton,
• Q107 in Toronto,
• AM 770 in Calgary,
• 102.1 the Edge in Toronto,
• CJOB 68 in Winnipeg,
• CKNW AM 980 in Vancouver,
• iNews880 in Edmonton,
• 630 CHED in Vancouver,

Corus started with its nine major market stations and will continue to launch co-branded Viigo applications with its other 52 radio properties, Huszar says. Communities in Ontario and Quebec could be next on the list for rollout.

Specific details about the partnership weren’t released, but it does involve some revenue sharing and also some ad placement for Corus involved, he adds.

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