James Cridland

Online radio overtakes AM/FM radio in the UK

A Kerbango internet radio

The latest RAJAR figures came out in the UK. Matt Deegan has done a good writeup calling radio “relentless”; and Adam Bowie has rounded-up all the news from each station. And Radio Today has done its usual excellent job.

For the first time, online radio listening has overtaken FM and AM radio listening. This is undoubtedly an important milestone in UK radio; but let’s put it into context.

Broadcast radio is still much larger than online. The predominant way that people listen to the radio in the UK is to DAB Digital Radio, which is broadcast radio just like you know it - free to receive, using nothing more than a (DAB) radio receiver with an antenna and a speaker. DAB is much larger than online streaming. (I gather that the same is the case in Australia, incidentally.)

The UK has been turning off AM services for a long time. Not just that, but radio receivers generally don’t include AM, even if they still include FM alongside DAB. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when you turn off AM transmissions, digital (DAB or online) will increase in share.

AM/FM listening is down 17% in share in just one year, down to 27%. That’s quite a drop. Though, what I was surprised at seeing is that, in the breakdowns, online listening out-performs AM/FM in every age-group until the 65+ year-olds.

This isn’t being driven by apps. “Website + apps” (which is more than just mobile apps) accounts for only 11% of radio listening. Smart speakers account for 17% of it. And websites/apps only grew by 7% year-on-year. (DAB grew by the same amount).

The future of radio is multi-platform, not just online. Broadcast radio continues to offer the majority of radio listening in the UK, whatever the headlines say.

Though, congratulations everyone who is in charge of a radio app. It truly “places radio at the heart of the 3G revolution”, as I once said in 2005, when launching the first one!

  • My brother tells me about a Slovenian radio station that is broadcasting a ZX Spectrum game. I remember Signal Radio broadcasting ZX Spectrum programs back in the 1980s after closedown.

  • Tim Eby’s Substack is highlighting the financial problems that public radio in the US has. Lots of financial deficits and problems; and a look into the cause. “Staleness” is one word that comes up. My recent listening to WBEZ did rather highlight this.

  • “Radio - the emergency broadcaster”, a refrain we hear a lot. It’s only an emergency broadcaster if the single points of failure - the transmitters - don’t fall down. Emergency broadcasting, I’d venture to suggest, is multiplatform too.

  • BBC Radio 2, and BBC Radio 6 Music, have pulled off Elon Musk’s X, as well as Facebook. “Our approach to promotional content continually evolves, including the use of social media, in line with changing audience behaviours.” was the press line.

    • For what it’s worth, Podnews still shares to X, but I’ve placed a 30-minute delay on those messages. Bluesky and Mastodon are where to get news first. I monitor replies on X and Mastodon.
  • Nice idea from Absolute Radio - “Absolute Radio Calm”, a new radio station just consisting of calming sounds like wood fires, cricket matches, or other things. “Listen in our app or ask your smart-speaker to play absolute radio calm”, we’re told. It’s for Mental Health Awareness Week.

  • I’m at The Podcast Show in London on Wed/Thu this week, and as part of my opening keynote, will be sharing some exclusive data from a week’s worth of podcast download numbers. I’ve uncovered some fascinating things. The code PODNEWS10 will get you a saving on selected passes.

Want to supercharge your radio show? Here’s a £1 week-long trial of Show Prep - from a world class radio consultant and the best show-prep writer in the UK. Great for UK stations, or for English-language stations everywhere, too. (ad)

Coming up…


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