Which ‘Online Radio App’ Does CNET Think Is Best?


 and Sarah Mitroff are two CNET reporters who in mid-December set out to create a “guide to streaming music.”

This, of course, was edited by CNET headline writers to become “online radio apps.”

Noting that there are tons of choices and that CBS, the parent company of CNET, owns Last.fm, Radio.com and many over-the-air AM/FM radio stations, “all of which compete or provide content in this space,” the writers offered their opinions and “top picks” on what streaming music platforms they liked the best.

To make its decision, Blanco and Mitroff weighed Pandora against Apple Music, TuneIn (where podcasts and broadcast stations’ streams co-exist), Slacker Radio and Napster UnRadio.

First, the writers determined if there was a free option.

Then, they looked at premium offerings, skip limits (if applicable), offline listening capabilities, and app availability.

It should be noted that NextRadio was not judged.

Ways each platform excels and “falls flat” were determined. Pandora, for instance, “can get stuck playing the same several songs over and over, especially if you listen to the same stations frequently.” Apple Music offers just one free station that plays music. TuneIn’s lone criticism dealt with the varying streaming quality when users go from station to station.

What did Blanco and Mitroff recommend as the top platforms: Pandora and TuneIn.

They write, “Our top pick for internet radio is Pandora for its simple design and abundant, but not excessive features. For the best listening experience, spend the $4.99 monthly fee for Pandora One, which gets rid of the annoying and abundant ads in the free version.”

Should listening to terrestrial radio be one’s preference, “TuneIn is your best bet,” they write. “It has hundreds of thousands of radio stations from all over the U.S. and around the globe, including tens of thousands that you wouldn’t be able to hear from your local broadcasts.”

Among the “even more options” for streaming noted by Blanco and Mitroff is iHeartRadio, which is described as “very similar to TuneIn, letting you listen to thousands of live radio stations around the world without even creating an account.”

Amazon Music and Spotify were not noted in the report as neither offers a radio station-type of listening option.