Cultural Differences: UK and US Online Listening

Last week I wrote about some differences in listening patterns to Internet radio between UK and US listeners, wondering why Brits are not as active as consumers in the US when it comes to listening to online radio and podcasts. David Van Dyke, President and CEO of Bridge Ratings, sent me a great explanation – here it is:

I read with interest your recent post about the variances in public “acceptance” for Internet radio here in the U.S. and in the U.K.

We work with a group of British companies in both the UK and Spain who have been struggling with their Internet radio business and here’s what we know:

  • UK listeners perceive Internet Radio much like US listeners view satellite radio. Except for the price factor, the key to this statement is that since the UK has no satellite radio, Digital radio (as they refer to Internet Radio) serves that purpose.  Interestingly, “Digital radio” in the U.K. has gotten far better marketing  and in-store support than HD radio has here in the states.
  • The tastes of the mass British consumer are very different from their U.S. counterparts. They are not particularly interested in niche programming and UK listeners have been brought up on a completely different set of entertainment resources than their U.S. counterparts and don’t see the purpose of Internet radio being as much a part of their weekly listening as we do here in the states. And because of the variety of content offered over the years on radio in the U.K., adults have little appetite for niched programming. Teens in Britain don’t have a use for it either as they are being brought up in a digital environment where they, like their U.S. counterparts, prefer control over their entertainment. Remember, there is no Pandora in Britain.
  • UK programmers, in general, are out of sync with the tastes of their UK audiences. This was the third reason in our studies: generally speaking, there has been insufficient reason to spend the time seeking out Internet radio programming because word of mouth is not that favorable.
  • Finally, Internet radio offerings are not well marketed in the UK. Without a Pandora there, top of mind awareness for any one Internet radio product is literally zero and there is little peer-to-peer viral discussion going on because of all of the previously mentioned factors.

Fascinating cultural differences.

Dave Van Dyke is President & CEO of Bridge Ratings, a company that specializes in media consumption analysis for clients in the radio, Internet, telecommunications and financial services industries.

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3 responses

  1. I disagree with the info you got from UK Bridge – Spotify and We7 are just as big as Pandora and as popular. UK people may spend less time listening to ‘internet radio’ (jukeboxes) but its not because ‘Pandora’ isnt here. A lot of shops use Spotify to stream music into them (i.e. hairdressers, gyms) and maybe these consumers are not counted as listeners?

  2. So many incorrect things said in this article is hard to see how Bridge can seriously help anyone.

    For instance, the phrase “digital radio” in the UK means DAB, (terrestrial digital radio) not Internet Radio.

    In terms of listening habits, look at the amount of listened hours to BBC streams – you’ll see that people do listen to radio on the Internet as part of their regular listening habits and it’s growing fast.

    As for the tired old statement that young people do not listen to radio because they cannot control it. The man has obviously never heard of BBC Radio One.

    As for the lack of a Pandora in the UK, well there’s the BBC and their iPlayer instead which receives a huge amount of prime-time promotion. I don’t think you can compare a jukebox to them.

    Obviously Bridge hasn’t bothered with any basic research and by that I mean spending a few minutes gathering facts from freely available public information.

  3. I have great respect for David Van Dyke and Bridge Ratings comments on US Radio. But, these comments on UK are inaccurate.

    The BBC and UK Commercial radio, paying for RAJARs, are pushing DAB over everything else—despite its actual, continued long-term failure in the marketplace. Distorting reality—heavily.

    Simplistically, having failed to become a global standard—before Internet radio—it is doomed, cannot be successful long-term (think Polavision with introduction of Beta and VHS).

    Read Grant Goddard for very expert, experienced and factual analysis and commentary on UK radio: http://grantgoddardradioblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/lies-damned-lies-and-ofcoms-first.html.

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