Studies: Nearly half of UK adults listen online weekly; more than 1/3 of all UK radio listening via digital platforms

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 12:55pm

A new service in the UK called Audiometrics says 48% of adults in that country listen to audio or radio online weekly -- that's 25 million age 15+. In the 25-34 demo, 59% are weekly listeners online.

Audiometrics' first market research to measure listening behaviour was published today and presented to key companies from the online audio sector at the initial meeting of the IAB's Audio Council in London.

Meanwhile RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research), which measures and profiles the audiences of UK radio stations, reported recently that listening via digital platforms (online, DAB radio, and digital television services) was up 11% over last year, and total digital hours were up 14% (two-thirds of that are on DAB).

More than a third of all radio listening is now via digital, says RAJAR.

Read more on Audiometrics here and RAJAR's figures here.

Digital radio now a third of all UK listening

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 1:30pm

According to new ratings figures, digital radio (broadcast DAB) in the UK now accounts for a third of all listening. That's 14% growth from last year, the BBC reports, "helped by better access to DAB receivers."

All digital stations saw their weekly audiences grow year-on-year, despite several stations losing listening in the last quarter of 2012. Digital Radio UK CEO Ford Ennals said, "Digital radio continues to transform the way people listen to the radio and one third of all listening to digital platforms represents an important milestone."

Figures from ratings service RAJAR show BBC 6 Music has overtaken Radio 4 Extra to become the leading digital-only station, now with 1.9 million listeners a week, 31% more than last year. Smash Hits is the largest commercial digital station, reaching nearly a million listeners. Smooth 70s hits more than 700-thousand.

Read more from the BBC here.

Academic's math shows Pandora pays sound recording royalty at 10 times the rate of UK radio

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 12:10pm

We've heard (at the recent House Subcommittee hearing on the Internet Radio Fairness Act for one, but elsewhere too, and often) the recording industry:

  • doesn't like the amount of royalties streaming services pay to play copyright recordings, and wants more;
  • really doesn't like that U.S. broadcasters don't pay at all; but should, like the good folks of the non-U.S. broadcast world.

So, how much does, say, a UK radio broadcaster pay to play a copyright sound recording per listener, and how does that compare to other services, like Spotify or Pandora?

Enter David Touve (you may remember him as the Washington and Lee University Assistant Professor of Business Administration who estimated that U.S. broadcasters would owe the recording industry $2.5 billion a year if they were required to pay at the webcasting rate here).

Using data from PPL (which collects royalties from UK radio) and RAJAR (which measures listening), and estimating 12 songs per hour, Touve estimates "the value of a single radio play to a single listener in the UK for only that portion of the royalties that are paid to record labels, featured artists, and performing artists" is £0.000073, or $0.00012.

"For comparison, I believe the value estimated above is 1/36th the rate reported by Zoe Keating ($0.0042) [Touve's referring to this] for her receipts from streaming music services (e.g., Spotify), 1/10th the rate ($0.0011) paid by Pureplay Webcasters in the U.S. (e.g., Pandora), and 1/18th the CRB-established default Webcaster rate ($0.0021) in the U.S."

Put another way: Pandora currently -- under the settlement "discount" rate -- pays at a rate ten times what UK radio pays to perform sound recordings.

(The difference in audience size between Pandora and the broadcast industry of a country like the UK, much less the U.S., naturally means the recording industry's take from broadcasters will be much larger. But what Touve is putting in high relief is the discrepancy between the rates.)

Read Touve's latest Rockonomics blog entry here.

Follow up: UK streaming numbers misquoted in recent Pandora article

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 11:55am

It seems as if Pandora founder Tim Westergren got some of his numbers confused when when comparing his company's streaming numbers to those of the entire UK (as reported in RAIN this week here).

The Pandora founder was suggesting that prohibitively high royalty rates would continue to keep his company from entering the UK market, in turn depriving both that country's consumers and copyright owners and performers of a healthy Internet radio sector. Westergren told PaidContent that his service, in a single day, basically matched the number of hours all Net radio services in the UK streamed in the entire fourth quarter of last year.

"The total number of hours spent listening to internet radio in the U.K. in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 35 million," said Westergren. "By contrast, Pandora alone streamed 975 million hours in the U.S. in just the most recent month."

Oops. RAJAR (the official body for measuring radio audiences in the UK) CEO Jerry Hill later told the newssource, "The actual number was 35 million hours per week , not 35 million hours for the quarter as Pandora had quoted you."

What's more, Westergren's comparison doesn't take into account the obvious population disparity between the two countries, the differences in methodology between RAJAR metrics and his own company's, and fundamental differences in the radio industry as a whole in the UK.

Perhaps still a valid point Westergren makes, but we wanted to correct the math error, as PaidContent has.

UK's RAJAR, echoing Arbitron, explains differences of over-the-air and web radio measurement

Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 11:00am

RAJARUK audience measurement body RAJAR has released a statement (here, PDF) in which it aims to explain the differences between how over-the-air and web radio audiences are measured.

"RAJAR measures real people," the document argues, while online measurement potentially has some flaws. "Online measurement can’t tell how many people are listening [meaning several people could be listening to one computer]... online measurement can’t tell how old a listener is [unless the listener shared that information]," and so on.

However, RAJAR does note that its over-the-air diary-based measurement system is flawed as well: it relies on listeners' memories and unlike the web's exact measurement, "RAJAR is a survey, and like all surveys it’s subject to sample error."

RAJAR argues "neither [measurement system] is ‘wrong’, and neither is less accurate than the other primarily because they are just different measures."

RAJAR's reports on UK radio listening include over-the-air and digital data.

Hat tip to industry expert James Cridland, who linked to RAJAR's statement from his blog here.

RAJAR's language is strikingly similar to a statement released in December 2011 by Arbitron (RAIN coverage here), which stressed the differences of AM/FM and web radio measurement. Arbitron even went so far as to argue against making "direct comparisons" between over-the-air and web radio measurements. 

UK's RAJAR: Web radio share, listening hours show yearly growth in Q4

Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 11:00am

RAJARNew data from RAJAR -- the UK's radio audience measuring body -- shows that Internet radio's share and listening hours in Q4 2011 increased over the previous year.

Internet radio collected 35 million hours of listening during the quarter, RAJAR reports, and held a 3.4% share of radio listening. Both figures are up around 10% from Q4 2010.

That said, MediaWeek argues (here) that the figures "have yet to demonstrate that Radioplayer, the one-stop shop for online radio listening launched on 31 March last year, has had a real impact on the number of hours listened to internet radio." The publication points to the fact that Internet radio's 35 million hours of listening is actually down from the 40 million reported in Q3 2011.

You can find RAJAR's Q4 results here (PDF). James Cridland has more coverage and analysis of RAJAR's findings about digital radio at his blog here.

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