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Ofcom radio report confirms youngsters listen less

Ofcom’s Communications Report confirms younger people are spending less time listening to live radio.

They now divide their time between live radio, personal digital music and streaming but weekly reach remains strong, suggesting an adjustment for radio rather than any structural decline. But time spent listening each week by 15-24s has fallen by five hours in the past ten years.

Over two-fifths of radio listening is through a digital device but between 2014 and 2016 average listening on a radio set
grew by seven minutes per day, listening to other audio grew by two minutes, and listening to radio on another device (e.g. smartphone) by one minute per day.

More people in Wales listen to radio, and they listen for longer, than in the UK as a whole. In 2015, radio services reached 93.6% of the adult population in Wales. This is 4pp higher than the UK average, and the highest reach of any UK nation. Listeners in Wales also listened to radio for the longest compared to the UK as a whole, at 22.1 hours per week on average.

Total UK radio industry revenue remained stable at £1.2bn, and some 89.6% tuned into the radio in 2015 and spent just over three hours listening each day.

Commercial radio revenues were up £8.0m on the year, with most of that being national. The two largest commercial radio groups, Global and Bauer, together reach over 39 million listeners every week. Five of the seven leading commercial radio groups increased the number of listeners they reached, with Global and Bauer gaining 1.4 million more listeners between them, reaching a total of 38.7 million listeners.

At the BBC, the corporation cut £8m from radio content expenditure. BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 4 Extra had the largest expenditure cuts in percentage terms (-10.6%, -25.8% and -20.5% respectively, 2014/15 to 2015/16). Other services had annual cuts in the range of -1.3% to -7.3%. The exceptions were Radio 5 live Sports Extra, which had no cuts at all, while two stations had increased expenditure: BBC Asian Network, up by 6.5% and Radio 4, up by 0.9%. Overall, the 40 BBC local radio services had an annual
increase of 3.6%.

In monetary terms, the 25.8% cut for 1Xtra equated to £1.6m, as did the 3.5% cut for Radio 2. Local radio received an extra £4.2m.

Looking at community radio, the report says in 2015, average expenditure per community radio service was £54,800, an increase of 2.3%. We also see that the average expenditure per station is greater than average income per station, a difference of £1,300.

See the full report from Ofcom’s website here.

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