Radio accounts for 80% of listening in-car

Australian figures show a rosy picture for radio, with 80% of all audio in-car

By James Cridland
Posted 20 November 2016, 7.01pm est
James Cridland

New research released today by Commercial Radio Australia paints a rosy picture for radio, saying that it accounts for 80% of all audio listened-to in the car.

Streaming services Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify only account for 3% of listening, according to the GfK-run research. Podcasting isn't split out in the research given, but "other audio" in total only accounts for 5%. "Owned music" - whether CDs or music played on another device - accounts for 12% in the infographic circulated by the Australian industry body.

In the US, Edison Research has also conducted research in in-car listening. They found that 87 minutes a day is spent by commuters listening to audio in cars. When asked "what you listen to most", 69% of respondents claiming they listen most to broadcast radio (AM/FM/satellite). Podcasts and audiobooks both get 2% of the total, and pure-play streaming internet radio accounts for 8%. They also discovered that US AM/FM radio listeners, on average, switch station 22 times in their commute.

Another US survey from Music Biz Consumer Insights and LOOP reports that only 15% are listening to streaming internet radio in cars. A follow-up claims that 29% use streaming music at some point.

In Europe, Radioplayer's research - limited to owners of new cars bought in the last three years - says that 75% of all audio listening is to the radio. In France, Germany and the UK, 84% of drivers 'always' or 'almost always' listen to the radio on a journey, according to research produced for the company, which is working on hybrid radio receivers for the car; and 69% of drivers would retain the radio above all-else.

44% of radio listening in the US is in-car, compared to only 20% in the UK, 23% in Norway, and 33% in Australia. It's 60% in Italy.

In Malaysia, radio in-car is the most popular way to listen to the radio, with 79% of radio listeners in Peninsular Malaysia using it each month.

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Aussie radio still king of the road

Radio remains the most popular entertainment choice on the road, with Australian commuters largely overlooking the music streaming options that have been introduced into car dashboards, according to research released today.

Radio accounts for 80% of in-car listening, followed by owned music such as CDs and downloads making up 12% of listening, and three per cent of listening going to the streaming services Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify, the GfK Australian Share of Audio study found.

Joan Warner, the chief executive officer of industry body Commercial Radio Australia, said the data was a reminder of the strong attachment consumers have with radio.

“In-car technology will continue to evolve but radio still has a central place on the dashboard because it’s a core part of the driving experience and the daily commute,” she said.

Among people who listen to audio in the car, the average daily time spent listening to radio is one hour and 11 minutes versus three minutes for streaming.

The GfK research is the first major comprehensive study of the evolution of the audio landscape in Australia and examines how and where Australians consume all forms of audio in a dynamic and changing market that includes radio, streaming, podcasts and online music videos.

Tony Kendall, chief executive of Australian Radio Network and chair of CRA’s Marketing and Brand Committee, said the research would dispel myths about the reach of global competitors.

“No other audio platform comes close to local radio in terms of reach and time spent listening, and that’s a message the industry is taking to advertisers and agencies,” he said.

The industry has launched an integrated on-air and trade marketing campaign to promote radio on the back of the research. As part of this, a four-week Media i campaign has just commenced using 220 screens in more than 60 media agencies across the five metropolitan capital cities.

The campaign promotes the key findings that 65% of all audio listening is to Australian radio and the medium is the number one audio platform for all demographics.

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James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.