Radio vs. Streaming

Most new audio devices do not contain AM/FM radios, and "streaming radio" on a smartphone or smart speaker is not the same as listening to real thing.  In fact, traditional over-the-air broadcasts have a number of distinct advantages to online streaming.

  Online
Streaming
Broadcast
Radio
Sports Broadcasts Paid Subscription
Required
Free
Latency High Low / None
Internet Required? Yes No

 

Sports Broadcasts

Most sports broadcasts - including those of the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL - can only be streamed online with a paid subscription.  But these games are available for free over the airwaves.  All you need is a radio to bring the action right into your home.

 

Latency

When you listen to radio streams on a smartphone or smart speaker, you're not actually hearing the live broadcast.  Rather, the audio may be delayed anywhere from a few seconds to five minutes as it travels through the pipes of the internet, often with an intentional delay to prevent buffering and to optimize advertisements.  This is less than ideal for breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, and sports, all of which should be heard in real time.  Traditional broadcasts, on the other hand, come to you instantaneously via radio waves traveling at the speed of light.

 

Internet Connection

Online radio streams require an internet connection and use data.  And like almost any activity online, advertisers and technology companies are generally able to track of the content you consume.  That is not the case with radio.  In many ways, the simplicity and elegance of radio are more appealing now than ever.