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“National Commercial Radio…Is Thriving,” UK Ofcom Says

“It is one of the only radio sectors to increase its number of 15-24 year-old listeners," regulator notes

UK communications regulator Ofcom has published its first annual Media Nations study, which reviews, among other things, the radio and audio sector. Some of the salient facts brought to light by include:

  • Total commercial revenues rose by 1% in real terms in 2017 to hit £557m

Ofcom reported that “national commercial radio in particular is thriving,” as it benefits from the wider reach offered by digital platforms. “It is one of the only radio sectors to increase its number of 15-24 year-old listeners as reach among this demographic has increased from 38% to 42% over the past decade.”

  • Overall, three-quarters of all audio listening is to live radio and more than half of all radio listening hours now takes place through a digital platform.

Ofcom discussed several reasons for this, including the extension of DAB coverage to over 90% of the country and the increased penetration of DAB radios. Nearly two thirds of households in the UK now own at least one.

  • Smart speakers are rapidly gaining acceptance as a way to listen to radio at home, while the increase in the number of national commercial stations available via streaming has also encouraged more people to switch from analog listening.
  • Two thirds of in-car listening still via analog.

Ofcom says that will change in future as most new vehicles now come with digital radios as standard equipment.

  • Music streaming services accounted for or 8% of all audio listening in the UK in 2017, rising to 29% among 15-24 year-olds.
  • Podcasts are also gaining in popularity with 9% of adults listening each week, rising to 15% over a month. Podcast listeners are also more likely to be younger (14% of 15-24 year-olds listen weekly, increasing to 23% who listen each month).

You can read the entire Ofcom report here.