Who says radio is meant to be heard, not seen? Starting Wednesday, Roku users gained access to a dozen holiday and genre-based iHeartRadio channels from the Roku Channel’s Live TV Guide, which include a visual backdrop. The audio giant says it is the first audio and streaming service to launch linear audio channels with companion visuals within an ad-supported Video on Demand service.
The ad-supported stations – which include holiday favorites as well as iHeartCountry Radio, Hit Nation, Alt Radio, iHeart80s Radio, and other digital stations – feature “immersive imagery to complement and enhance the audio experience,” iHeart says. Available on Roku devices, the Roku Channel mobile app Web, Samsung Smart TVs, and Amazon Fire TVs, iHeart says the stations have been programmed to “fit seamlessly” within the Roku Channel’s Live TV Guide alongside offerings from other publishers.
The two partnered last year to make iHeart’s holiday music stations available to Roku users for free.
Meanwhile, in what iHeart says is its first visual podcast experience, the company is bringing to life a holiday classic in both audio and visual elements. The company has lined up a group of celebrities for a holiday reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas. iHeart says what will make it different from other podcasts, is that listeners will be able to follow along with on-screen illustrations while each celebrity reads the poem in their own unique style.
Among the stars and celebrities that iHeart has enlisted for the podcast are Bon Jovi, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Pitbull, Elton John, Carrie Underwood, and Paris Hilton, among others. In all, iHeart says more than 40 episodes, each featuring a different celebrity, will roll out ahead of the Christmas holiday.
The Twas the Night Before Christmas podcast will also have a 3D audio soundscape. That is the binaural audio technology that allows producers to develop life-like soundscapes. For the holiday podcast, iHeart says listeners will be able to hear elements like a fireplace crackling in the background.
In addition to the individual readings of Twas the Night Before Christmas, iHeart will also drop a special Country All-Stars compilation episode which will feature Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Kane Brown, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen, Old Dominion, Trisha Yearwood, Luke Combs, and half a dozen other country stars, reading together for one, star-studded episode.