New consumer research commissioned by technology provider Frontier Smart Technologies shows how the coronavirus shifted broadcast radio listening across the United Kingdom and how those developments could influence that country’s move toward DAB [Digital Audio Broadcasting], DAB+ and IP streaming and multimedia technologies.
The newly released survey examined the audio listening habits of the British public — from March 24 to May 11, 2020 — during the first U.K. COVID-19 lockdown. A total of 1,096 people participated in the survey. The majority of the survey panel was between the ages of 36 to 65 years old, according to Frontier Smart Technologies.
The survey shows that just over a quarter of respondents (27%) listened to more radio in lockdown than before, while a quarter (25%) and a fifth (20%) respectively reported listening to podcasts and physical mediums less frequently. In addition, 81% of respondents listened to radio, compared to music streaming (52%), physical formats (33%) and podcasts (24%) during the survey period.
The U.K. survey findings also reinforce the importance of the radio receiver as a dedicated device, with a significant number of people (40%) reporting that a standalone radio was their main source of audio entertainment, compared to their mobile phone (19%), smart speaker (18%), laptop/PC (8%), tablet (5%), CD/record player (4%) or other (6%).
A review provided by Frontier Smart Technologies concludes: “The continuing popularity of radio listening and devices dedicated to this purpose, as well as these shifts in listening habits, are likely to extend beyond COVID-19 in some form, as workers — who wish to continue splitting business hours between the home and the office, to enjoy more flexible arrangements — push for the new-normal to inform the post-COVID workplace.”
The tech company, an OEM that provides radio chips and modules to numerous electronics brands worldwide, hopes the data will bring more focus on DAB+ and how “digitization” is influencing the radio listening experience.
Consumer trends, the company said, show a shift to digital yet a surprisingly high number of consumer radio devices sold in Europe (64%) are analog-only, according to Frontier, which is slowing the adoption of DAB+. The company says DAB+ provides a gateway to a SmartRadio future across Europe. SmartRadio is a hybrid product combines terrestrial broadcasts with internet protocol services and content. It is promoted by the SmartRadio coalition, of which Frontier is a member and equipment manufacturer.
Frontier Smart Technologies said: “DAB+ adds to the benefits of DAB by providing advanced data services and improving on the simple text-based electronic program guides of DAB with the addition of built-in color displays. They may include details about the station, track or album being listened to — including cover art and other images — as well as information on traffic reports, and images from the news, sports and even advertisers.”
The technology provider continues: “SmartRadio adds on-demand audio, including podcast support, a key feature for mass consumer appeal, with listener figures increasing rapidly over recent years. Listeners can enjoy thousands of internet radio stations from across the globe, in addition to local and national broadcast services.”