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19 August 2010

Trends in media consumption: radio/audio

mLocal radio has suffered a decline in recent years, whereas online-related audio activity has grown.

By Nick Petrie

The overall amount of radio being listened to is down 5.3 per cent over the past five years.

Data newly released by Ofcom also shows that radio is least popular among the 16-24 age group, despite their high consumption of audio online.

The over-55s’ audio consumption is dominated by radio: 17 per cent of their media consumption is audio and 71 per cent of that is listening to the radio. The report did show that when young people do listen to the radio, they are far more likely to use a handheld device like a mobile.

Fifteen per cent of time spent online by people aged 16-24 is dedicated to downloading everything from music to podcasts.

In line with the popularity of radio among the over-55s, the number of people listening to national radio has actually increased, despite the numbers for local radio falling — in some cases by 25 per cent (in the case of BBC local radio).

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BBC expenditure on radio services rose by 26 per cent over the five years to 2009, while commercial revenues fell by 22 per cent over the same period. However, local comercial radio has fared better than the BBC, experiencing only a 13 per cent drop.

So, even though more people are listening to the radio, the actual hours of radio consumed have fallen. The prevalence of MP3 players and surge in the podcast market probably play a key role in this reduction.

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