Written by Internet, Radio

Broadcast v Internet Listening

If there’s one thing that’s incredibly dangerous to do when you’re trying to work out what’s going on the world, it’s the “Sample Size of One.” What I mean is that just because you or your family is adopting a certain type of behaviour, that does not make it the norm.

That’s especially true in media circles, where smartphone penetration is close to 100% and Apple’s market share is probably in the high eighties. Yes, a lot of people own smartphones and tablets. But no, not everyone does. And just because everyone at your child’s school has a smartphone or tablet, that does not automatically make the same true on a national basis.

I mention this because I was listening to the very fine Media Podcast this weekend (especially fine since my blog on The New Day was referenced), and a few dubious facts were propagated when discussing the rumoured (and firmly denied) suggestion that Five Live might follow BBC Three as an online-only station.

One of the guests said that yes, it was a feasible plan in the long-term.

“I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio when it was through an FM signal or even a DAB signal. The only people listening to radio are people who are of an older generation or people who are driving to work.”

Now to be completely fair, presenter Olly Mann noted that he was as big a digital advocate as you’d want to meet, but he didn’t think this was true and hypothesised that broadcast might have another 20 years.

Just because you personally don’t do something, you can’t simply extrapolate from that and say that the same is true for everyone.

To be clear, 90% of the population listen to the radio – for an average of 21 hours a week.

And what’s more, they’re mostly listening via broadcast – that is to say, large transmitters sited on hills, or even satellites in geo-stationary orbits.

If you exclude data for which no platform data is available (for simplicity – IP listening would be lower if I included it), just 7.5% of listening is via IP. The rest is mostly FM, AM and DAB, with a little via Freeview, satellite and cable.

Ah yes. But those people are all old aren’t they?

Well – no. That’s everyone. But if we look at the very youngest people that RAJAR fully measure – 15-19 year olds, the internet percentage goes up to 20%, but it’s still vastly outnumbered by broadcast.

Added to this, there is the recent research from Radioplayer showing that 82% of drivers would not consider buying a car without a radio, with 69% choosing radio ahead of CD, Bluetooth and streaming functionality.

And that’s before we get to the availability of strong 3G or 4G reception around the country, and the fact that data costs the consumers money while broadcast is for the most part free at the point of reception.

So be wary of your own personal habits. You can’t simply extrapolate from them.

Source: RAJAR Q4 2015, based on All Adults and Adults 15-19. Excluding “Platform Not Stated” and “Digital Platform Not Stated” listening.