Radio Wars: Pandora Says it's Beating Sirius, Apple in Battle For Listeners

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Pandora (P) said Tuesday that it has retained the title as the top music-streaming service for at least another month, according to audience metrics the company released Tuesday.

The online radio station said it posted an 8% month-over-month and 18% year-over-year increase to 1.47 billion hours of content for October. Its share of U.S.-based radio listening totaled 8.1%, an increase from 7.8% in September and 6.6% in October 2012, according to the Oakland, Calif.-based company.

Pandora streamed a total 1.47 billion hours of content over the month, up from 1.25 billion a year earlier. Strong growth over the past two months is tied to the company's lifting of a 40-hour free monthly mobile listening cap on Sept. 1.

However, the number of active listeners was lower since September, falling 1.8 million to 70.9 million, as competitors chip away at the giant's dominance. Active listeners remained strong on a year-to-year basis, up 20% from 59.2 million in October last year.

Strong growth in listeners comes in spite of Apple (AAPL) launching its rival service iTunes Radio mid-September. Though the Cupertino-based company hasn't released metrics, CEO Tim Cook said at the company's iPad event last month that iTunes Radio had attracted 20 million listeners four weeks after launch.

Addressing a Morgan Stanley conference on Monday, Pandora's CFO Michael Herring a portion of the funds raised in a September stock offering will be invested in expanding its international footprint. The Oakland, California-based company currently operates in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, albeit with broadcasting restrictions depending on each country's laws. Earlier in October, Apple said it was planning to launch its service in overseas markets including the U.K., Canada and Oceania by early 2014.

Rival streaming broadcaster Sirius XM (SIRI) had a total 25.6 million paid subscribers in the quarter ended Sep. 30, 9% higher than a year earlier. Customers who had signed up for paid and unpaid trials grew 3.7% to 6.9 million.

Pandora shares jumped 9.1% to $28 and Apple dipped 0.24% lower to $525.51, while Sirius XM suffered 2% to $3.71.

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