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First-Ever ‘Infinite Dial UK’ Survey Provides Insights for U.K. Radio

Edison Research brings its survey of digital media usage to the United Kingdom

Radio World is taking an in-depth look at “The Infinite Dial UK 2021” report this week.

In a bid to provide British broadcasters with the same market intelligence enjoyed by their U.S. colleagues, Edison Research conducted its first-ever “The Infinite Dial UK 2021” consumer measurement study.

Its conclusions are based on 1,000 telephone interviews with U.K. residents 16 and older, during the fourth quarter of 2021.

The original Infinite Dial survey, which is focused on U.S. consumer interactions with radio, has been conducted annually since 1998. Similar Infinite Dial surveys have been done in Canada, Australia, Germany, and South Africa.

The results of the first-ever Infinite Dial UK were announced in a Dec. 2, 2021, webinar hosted by Edison Research President Larry Rosen, and made possible through the sponsorship of Bauer Media and Spotify. This week, Radio World will be summarizing his presentation in five parts. In Part One, we’ll cover Edison’s findings on U.K. connected technology ownership and social media usage.

Connect tech ownership

According to Rosen, 83 percent of respondents to the Infinite Dial UK survey own smartphones, which is “just a bit lower than our estimate for the USA,” he said. This percentage is consistent across age groups. Meanwhile, 53 percent of those surveyed own an iPad or other tablet, while 25 percent own a smart speaker. The leading brand of smart speaker is Amazon’s Alexa, followed by Google Nest and Apple HomePod.

“The majority of people who have at least one smart speaker in their household have two or more, and 28 percent of people … have three or more,” said Rosen. “That’s a trend we’ve seen pretty consistently … People who get them tend to really like them and put them in multiple rooms around their house.”

Smart speaker ownership in the U.S. and U.K. (Courtesy Edison Research)

Social media usage

Eighty-six percent of respondents to the Infinite Dial UK study reported “they use some form of social media, including nearly everybody aged 16–34, and a very, very sizable majority of everyone over the age of 35 as well,” Rosen said.

Facebook has the highest level of brand awareness at 89 percent, followed by Instagram and Twitter at 85 percent and TikTok at 83 percent. Sixty-seven percent of people surveyed are aware of Snapchat, 58 percent have heard of LinkedIn and 55 percent of Pinterest.

[Read more of our coverage of ‘Infinite Dial’ report]

Actual usage of social media in the U.K. varies by platform and age group. The social platform used most often was Facebook (55 percent for 16+; 48 percent for 16–34; 56 percent for 35–54; and 62 percent for 55 and older). Second place was a tie between Instagram (9 percent for 16+; 14 percent for 16–34; 7 for 35–54; and 7 percent for 55 and older) and Twitter (9 percent for 16+; 7 percent for 16–34; 9 percent for 35–54; and 10 percent for 55 and older).

These were followed by:

  • Snapchat (8 percent for 16+; 15 percent for 16–34; 6 percent for 35–54; and 3 percent for 55 and older);
  • TikTok (7 percent for 16+; 10 percent for 16–34; 8 percent for 35–54; and 4 percent for 55 and older);
  • Pinterest (5 percent for 16+; 3 percent for 16–34; 6 percent for 35–54; and 5 percent for 55 and older);
  • Other platforms (7 for 16+; 3 for 16–34; 8 percent for 35–54; and 9 percent for 55 and older).

In another chart, Larry Rosen compared social media platform usage in the U.K. and U.S.

Social media platform usage in the U.K. and U.S. compared (Courtesy Edison Research)

“There’s a lot more usage in the United States of Facebook, Instagram. and Pinterest,” he said. “Snapchat is pretty equal; Twitter is a little higher in the United States. The two [social media platforms] that have higher usage just by a small amount in the U.K. as compared to the U.S. are LinkedIn and TikTok.”

All told, social media in the U.K. is a potent force for radio broadcasters to deal with, with Facebook being far and away the heavyweight in this market.

In Part Two of Radio World’s summary of “The Infinite Dial UK 2021,” we’ll look at Larry Rosen’s numbers on radio listening and radio/smart speaker ownership.

Part 1: “First-Ever ‘Infinite Dial UK’ Survey Provides Insights for U.K. Radio
Part 2: “‘Infinite Dial UK’ Details U.K. Radio Listening, Ownership
Part 3: “‘Infinite Dial UK’ Digs into U.K. Online Audio
Part 4: “‘Infinite Dial UK’ Looks at In-Car Media
Part 5: “U.K. Likes Podcasts Finds ‘Infinite Dial UK’