Apple’s radio debut will feel a lot like… radio

Apple’s(s aapl) long-awaited streaming music service, iTunes Radio, will finally arrive in September, and it will come with a feature familiar to listeners of regular old FM: frequent ads from car and fast food companies.
According to AdAge, Apple has lined up 12 original sponsors which will interrupt the music every 15 minutes with an audio ad, and once an hour with a video ad. The sponsors, which include McDonald’s(s mcd), Nissan and Pepsi(s pep), will have exclusive rights to their respective category during the first year.
Like Pandora(s p), iTunes Radio listeners will not be able to play a song on demand, but will instead hear programmed playlists of Apple’s choosing. Overall, then, some could find that the ads and the lack of choice will make the Apple radio experience feel less like the digital future — and more like old-school FM (minus the chattering DJs).
There is, however, an ad-free option that will be available to anyone who buys the company’s cloud-music storage service; as Apple blogger John Gruber notes, “Best reason yet to sign up for iTunes Match.”
The radio product should also give a boost to Apple’s advertising ambitions. As AdAge notes, the new audio and video inventory will make the company’s iAd network more attractive. Recall that the network has been losing ground in mobile advertising to the likes of Facebook(s fb) but that, as AdExchanger reported, Apple could still emerge as an “advertising giant.”
Apple announced earlier this summer that iTunes Radio would arrive as part of iOS 7; it will also work with Apple TV, Windows and OS X.