Radio on the TV

Radio on the TV

Today comes news that Bauer is winding down the availability of its radio services on Freeview. This follows their previous departure from satellite and cable. So services like Absolute Radio, Kiss, Magic and Greatest Hits Radio will no longer be available on TV platforms – at least without using some kind of smart TV app like Radioplayer.

In many respects this would seem to make sense. Freeview capacity is extremely expensive because it’s limited, and even in 2024, it remains valuable. Also, if you look at RAJAR listening figures for listening via TV, it’s low.

Q4 2023 RAJAR results tell us just 3.7% of All Radio listening was done via digital TV. That said, if you look at Absolute Radio this rises to 6.6%, and for Magic it’s a not insignificant 8.5% of all listening hours.

But I’ve no doubt that someone has crunched the numbers and looked at transmission cost per listener hour to determine whether it’s worth continuing to pay those costs to reach those audiences, and like Absolute Radio’s AM transmission before it, Bauer has decided that it’s not economic to continue to broadcast on those platforms.

However, I’ll add one note of caution. One of the biggest visible uses of radio on TV is in reception areas and waiting rooms. My dentist plays Magic in its waiting room. And if nothing else, these communal areas allow people to trial a station that they might not otherwise listen to. Maybe I might discover that Ken Bruce is on Greatest Hits Radio while I’m waiting in a surgery somewhere? I probably won’t be listening via my TV at home – an actual radio or smart speaker will be more convenient. But I discovered the station in that waiting room via a Freeview TV.

These shared areas are much more likely to have TVs up on the wall than radios balanced on a receptionist’s desk. Certainly, some will be piping through bespoke Spotify playlists and the like through a fancy Sonos setup. But I would never underestimate the number of places that still use TVs like this – a receptionist perhaps flipping between a news channel and the radio.

I’m sure that listening will be lost, and Global and BBC radio services will benefit as a result.

So yes, on a purely economic level, it probably makes sense, but Bauer’s big station brands have become just that little bit more invisible as a consequence.

Feature image is AI generated in Adobe Photoshop with the prompt “a photo realistic dentist’s waiting room with a television hanging on the wall, but no people in the room.” The Heart logo, taken from their Freeview channel was then added.