Written by Radio

Internet Listening and RAJAR

I thought I’d expand a little on one aspect of RAJAR that has been reported on a bit, and has been seen by some as surprising.
I touched on the internet listening numbers a little in my summary piece on this quarter’s RAJAR figures. I said:
One oddity in the figures is the apparent fall in internet listening during the first quarter from 3.6% of listening to 3.2%. This comes in the quarter that RadioPlayer was very successfully launched. I’d suggest that last quarter’s 3.6% was more of a blip than anything. The long term share is certainly heading in an upwards trajectory.
But since then, I’ve got into a little bit of a conversation with a commenter, while Broadcast magazine has written an article (subscription required) based around the fall in internet hours.
In the latter’s case, I think the headline number is a little misleading, since the reported decline is actually only 4.3m hours, and whichever way you choose to round, that doesn’t equate 5m. But nonetheless, let me expand a little on the whys and wherefores of that decline.
I think the best place to start is to look at the overall trend in internet radio listening.

The jump from Q4 2010 to Q1 2011 was one of the bigger jumps we’ve seen. And while the level may have fallen back this quarter, the overall trend of that chart is pretty clear – internet listening is on the rise. Even at 3.2%, the level is currently at the second highest level it’s been at since measurements began. There is no doubt that overall the trend is moving in one direction.
Back in Q3 2010, the percentage dipped a fraction, and what happened then? It went up to over 3% for the first time.
These are small numbers, but like anything, outliers are often just that – one-off anomalies.
Yes – it’d have been fantastic if, during the first quarter that RadioPlayer was launched, internet listening had gone through the roof. But that wasn’t ever likely to happen. This is going to be a longer journey, as listeners discover the benefits of listening online and as RadioPlayer develops to become even better. For many people, the introduction of RadioPlayer meant little more than the player changing when they launch it from their favourite station’s website.
In the meantime, listening via mobile apps continues to grow, as more stations develop better apps for more devices, and the population as a whole buys more smartphones capable of running apps. According to Ofcom’s Communications Report published today, one third of adults use a smartphone.
So, allied to the fact that radio remains as popular as ever, the development of services like RadioPlayer, and the increased usage of smartphones with their ability to stream radio via apps, it’s not only likely that listening via the internet will continue to grow – it’s going to be just about impossible for growth in streaming to be avoided!