Does a TV channel show radio's future? And, radio revenues up - mostly

  • Does a little Australian TV channel give us clues for radio’s future? Here’s my latest column exploring whether radio needs a little “Oxygen”. In short, it’s a consideration whether the primacy of “live” is the right fit for radio’s future.

  • Norway: radio advertising revenue down 10% in 2018 (to US $45m). Norway’s fall is partially attributable to Norway’s FM switchoff, which completed just before Christmas 2017; but I don’t think that’s the whole story. I’m wondering whether advertisers correctly understood the move from buying “a radio station” to buying “a radio network” - groups of stations run by the same owner. Listenership in Norway appears to have spread over a much wider choice of listening: perhaps advertisers didn’t keep up with the change.

  • Sweden: radio advertising revenue up 22% in 2018 (to US $65m). “Sweden launched three new national channels on FM in 2018, all of them were commercial stations that earlier broadcast in networks around the country with varying degree of coverage.”

  • UK: radio revenue estimated to be up 6% in 2018 (to US $887m). This post from Radiocentre also shows how other advertising categories did, which is an interesting read. If the estimates are right, radio revenue grew for 2018 at the same rate as the ad market as a whole.

  • (Other figures that I could quickly find: Australian metro radio was up 3.4% to US $585m. German radio and audio was forecast to be up 3.7% to US $965m - this figure includes podcast audio. US radio was forecast to be up 1.1% to US $17.8bn. It should be noted that “US radio” doesn’t include SiriusXM or most podcast revenue).

  • US: While we’re on revenues, 28.9m Americans are paying for radio. That means SiriusXM had a record 2018’s revenue growth - up 6% to $5.8bn. Or, if you like it better that way, SiriusXM is making about a third of broadcast radio’s revenue.

  • UK: Lauren Laverne - good interview in the New Statesperson about her new role as chief inquisitor for Desert Island Discs. She’s also the BBC Radio 6 Music breakfast presenter, and if this article is to be believed, also apparently answers telephone calls for a bank. You’ll have thought she could let that side-hustle go.

  • US: The New Yorker’s website is rubbish, and here’s why. This is an interesting read. Most user registration services are not great. But if you’re paying $150 per year for a service, they need to be.

  • UK Good piece in here about BBC Sounds, the disastrous BBC app, from Caroline Crampton. It’s a model for how not to roll out a new product, so far as I can see. The botched exclusivity windows are just a highlight.

  • Interesting. Is there an “above the fold” for emails? Why yes, yes there is.. (Most radio stations’ email blasts are pretty awful, and amount to essentially a ton of disconnected advertising content to audiences stupid enough to sign up to them. I think this is such a wasted opportunity - they should, and can, raise cume and reach, if only they were used properly.)

  • Canada: Community radio in Penticton BC - worthwhile remembering that there’s still a lot of passion for radio, particularly within local communities. A clever radio operator would be harnessing this passion while making a commercially-viable service.

  • UK: Terribly sad to hear that Jeremy Hardy died last week. If you want to know what made him tick, here’s a half-hour interview, hosted by Jack Dee. He was a special kind of comic performer who understood (and loved) radio. Difficult to listen to The News Quiz this week via podcast - recorded before his death was announced, but edited after.

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