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Apple could bring Beats 1 to broadcast radio

The company could invest in the biggest radio broadcaster in the US.

Apple could be set to invest in iHeartMedia, and may bring its Beats 1 station to the broadcast network as part of a deal. Discussions are in the early stages, The Financial Times reports.

The radio company filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year and is around $20 billion in debt. It has held talks with possible investors as a deadline looms later this month for iHeartMedia, which is the largest radio broadcaster in the US with more than 850 stations, to submit a reorganization plan to bankruptcy court. If the investment, which iHeartMedia seemingly hopes will be worth tens of millions of dollars in equity, doesn't go ahead, Apple could instead strike a multi-million-dollar marketing deal, according to the report.

Should the companies team up, Apple could make Beats 1 available on iHeartMedia's network. The radio station is currently only available through Apple's own platforms, but expanding availability should increase awareness of Apple Music among people who mostly listen to broadcast radio, and could win Apple some new subscribers. The point of Beats 1 was apparently to promote Apple's subscription service, but the station has reportedly failed to attract as many listeners as the company had hoped.

Apple reported earlier this year that Apple Music had more than 50 million users, both paying subscribers and free trial members. If the numbers haven't drastically grown since then, that places it substantially behind Spotify, which revealed in its quarterly earnings report Thursday that it had 87 million paying subscribers. To help it compete, Apple bought Shazam earlier this year to improve recommendations in Apple Music.