The number of radio sets sold has fallen by over 15% year on year, new Ofcom figures show.
The regulator’s annual ‘Communications Market Report’ highlights that in the 12 months to March 2014, 900,000 fewer radio sets were sold in the UK. In previous years, the number of DAB sets sold had remained stable, while the number of analogue sets sold had fallen. In the twelve months to March 2014, the numbers of analogue and DAB radio sets sold both fell.
Ofcom suggests that the increase in take-up of multi-use devices, such as tablets and smartphones, may be affecting the sales of radio sets. Many households now own a range of devices capable of receiving radio, despite radio not being the main function of the device.
The regulator also reports that for the first time, there are now signs that older people are following youngsters in spending less time listening to the radio. Over the past six years, the reach of radio has remained largely unchanged. However, average time spent listening to radio per listener fell in 2013. Ofcom said “the decline among those aged 15-24 and 24-34 has been the most rapid, but there are now signs of a reduction in listening hours among those aged between 55 and 64.”
It reports that listening to live radio takes a 71% ‘share of ear’ among all adults. However, Ofcom again found significant differences by age. For 16-24 year olds, listening to live radio comprises less than a quarter of their time spent on listening activities; personal digital music and streamed music account for 60% of their listening time.
Meanwhile, Ofcom reports that total UK radio industry revenue was £1.18bn in 2013, down by 2.1% from 2012. BBC expenditure fell by £4m, while commercial radio revenue fell by £21m. Commercial radio advertising revenue from local brands, products and services grew slightly, while other revenue sources declined over the year. The small growth of 0.8% was not enough to make up for the year-on-year declines in national advertising and sponsorship revenues, which fell by 8.4% and 5.3% respectively.
Separate Ofcom reports also cover each of the nations. The regulator found that more people in Wales listen to the radio than in any other UK nation. In 2013, radio services reached 95.4% of the adult population in Wales, five percentage points above the UK average of 90.4%. Listeners in Wales also listened to radio for the longest compared to other UK nations, at 21.7 hours per week on average.
Meanwhile, local commercial stations are more popular in Scotland than in other nations, accounting for a 36% share of listening hours in Scotland in 2013. Overall, commercial radio accounted for around half of adults’ total share of listening hours in Scotland, higher than any other nation and seven percentage points above the UK average of 42%.