TuneIn adds new Premium tier: ad-free radio, live MLB coverage, audio books and more

TuneIn Premium
Credit: TuneIn

TuneIn, in case you've never encountered it, is a streaming radio service. For us old folks that might seem strange; if you want to listen to radio why not just turn on the radio, right? Of course there are a lot of reasons why you'd use TuneIn. Maybe you want to listen to a station from back home, or maybe you don't have a radio in your office.

It's not a service I've used much since I grew up listening to songs book-ended by seemingly endless advertisements; I was happy to leave that experience behind as other streaming services came online.

But now TuneIn has introduced a Premium service that just might win me over. TuneIn Premium costs $8/month in the US (it's also available in Canada and the UK with more countries to follow) and there's a 30 day free trial.

Ad-free radio is just one of the perks that comes with the service. TuneIn Premium offers 600 (out of a total 70,000 stations carried by the service) ad-free radio stations, live play-by-play coverage of MLB baseball, live play-by-play coverage of Barclays Premier League and Bundesliga soccer matches, access to 40,000 audio books and 16 language learning stations. That's quite a line up of content.

TuneIn does note in its FAQ that you may hear dead air during MLB coverage; that happens during commercial breaks. Instead of hearing the ads you hear silence. I guess it's a lot to ask that they fill the dead space with commentary or stats just for TuneIn listeners. Also it seems that prior to the launch of Premium you could get the soccer coverage for free. That is no longer the case.

If you're wondering, as I was, how you listen to audio books in a streaming radio app, the books are broken up by chapter. Listening via the web, anyway, there's no way to save your place; you'll have to remember where you left off, though you can leave a comment which could help you keep track.

Signing up for the 30-day free trial of TuneIn Premium requires that you give them credit card information. If that doesn't bug you, it's worth giving the new service a try to see if it's a good fit for you. TuneIn Premium is available via the web or TuneIn's Android and iOS apps. The Windows 10 app doesn't yet support it.

I signed up and so far have mixed feelings. First of all you need to be careful when browsing for stations. Using the web interface I found browsing showed all stations by default, and I had to scroll down the page to find the Premium (ad-free) stations. For example I'm browsing for Classic Rock stations. First "Right Now In Classic Rock Radio" is listed, then "Featured' and finally below that "Premium Stations." I'd prefer to be able to search/browse just the premium stations. I also had fairly frequent drop-outs where the station would go silent for half a second or so. Generally this happened in the first few minutes after tuning in. It's mot something that would bug me too much using the free TuneIn, but for $8/month I want a pristine experience.

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