RAJAR, the official audience measurement service for radio in the UK, has recently released listening data from the 4th quarter of last year. Listening to Internet radio grew by 55% in the year between Q4 2009 and Q4 2010, crossing over the 3% of all radio listening share threshold for the first time.
Listening to radio via other digital platforms is substantial as well – listening to digital audio broadcasting (DAB) in the UK has a 25 % share of all listening. There has been a much more substantial effort in the UK to transition radio broadcasting and distribution to DAB – Digital One and BBC are the two main operators and over one-third of the population now lives in a household with a DAB receiver.
At the same time, listening to all radio continues to grow in the UK. 46.7 million persons 15+ listen to radio weekly, which translates to 90.5% of that population. That’s up by almost 750,000 listening or 1.7% from a year ago.
There’s a lot that is different about radio listening in the UK, so it’s difficult to make comparisons to US listening. 55% of all listening is to BBC Radio, which is government funded. 42.5% of listening is to Commercial Radio. Audience measurement is funded jointly by the BBC and the Commercial sector and the data is available online for everyone to see (here).
It’s interesting to note that digital listening is driving overall listening UP overall. One could infer that listeners are more satisfied with additional platform offerings and are spending more time with the medium..
Nearly a third of British adults have listened to Internet radio, according to updated research from RAJAR, the official body in charge of measuring radio audiences in the UK. 16.3 million adults have listened either to live or time shifted streamed services.
RAJAR is jointly owned by the BBC and commercial radio companies. This updated information comes as part of MIDAS, Measurement of Internet Delivered Audio Services. Basically, commercial and non-commercial radio operators in the UK have teamed up to fund research that provides them with audience data, an approach that I think makes enormous sense for an industry that is witnessing the kind of platform segmentation that radio is.
Mobile listening has grown rapidly in the UK over the past year. 6.6 million persons 15+ have listened to Internet radio on a mobile device. Over a quarter of smartphone owners on the Midas survey (26% or 2.2 million adults) have downloaded a radio app and, of those, almost half (44%) use their radio apps at least once a week.
The Internet Media Device Association (IMDA) has released a standard for standalone internet radio devices which will help to align competing technologies, hasten development of more devices, create clear rules for broadcasters and benefit consumers. For manufacturers of internet radios, the certification standard aims to reduce time to market and marketing risk by removing the prospect of rival technology wars. At the same time, online broadcasters adhering to IMDA Profile 1 will be able to reach target audiences using fewer audio codecs, cutting associated costs.
Mark Hopgood, an IMDA steering committee member and Frontier Silicon’s director of marketing, commented, “audio data streaming over the internet is faced with a unique set of challenges, from codec design through to play list format, countless choices need to be made. If a universal standard isn’t specified now, when the market for internet radios is in its relative infancy, manufacturers risk entering a technology war, like the Betamax/VHS war of the ‘80s. If this happens, many early adopters will end up with obsolete products – this needs to be avoided at all costs. Technology wars create market uncertainty, which hurts manufacturers, hurts broadcasters and, most importantly, hurts the consumers.”
The newly released IMDA baseline standard stipulates devices must decode both WMA and MP3 codecs; use HTTP streaming with 301 and 302 redirection; accept play list formats M3U, ASX, PLS with new line separation for URLs in plain text; and receive stereo streams via two channels or by downloading a mix of both.
The idea is to offer certification of devices as quickly as possible – Harry Johnson, chairman of the IMDA’s steering committee and president of vTuner, concluded, “internet radios bearing the IMDA certified logo will be in the shops before Christmas.”
The IMDA was launched in 2009 to develop and promote a set of open, interoperable standards and device profiles for internet connected media devices. Its steering committee comprises many of the world’s leading players in streaming media: Awox, BBC, Deutsche Welle, the European Broadcasting Union, Frontier Silicon, Global Radio, Pure, Reciva, SWR and vTuner.