Young People are Abandoning Radio at an Alarming Rate, Study Finds

New UK Study Suggests Young People Are Abandoning Radio
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New UK Study Suggests Young People Are Abandoning Radio
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Image by Fran Urbano (CC by 2.0)

Why exactly are young people ditching the airwaves?

Rajar released new figures about radio listening. Despite strong competition from music streaming, radio remains the UK’s favorite way to listen to music. Yet, stations aimed at young people are experiencing a significant decline.

BBC Radio 1 took a strong hit. Its audience fell 3.2% in the final three months of 2016 compared to the previous quarter. In the past five years, over one fifth of their regular listeners have also abandoned the station. Nick Grimshaw’s Breakfast Show alone lost over half a million listeners last year.

1Xtra also saw a strong listenership decline. During the last three months of 2016, listenership fell 11.4%. Capital experienced a similar decline, though not as severe: 3.1%. BBC Radio 2 saw a 2.7% in their weekly audience numbers year-on-year. The Kiss network lost a 3.5% share. 6 Music remains static.

Despite the bad news, total live radio audience recorded jumped to 48.68 million listeners. BBC Radio, despite several stations taking a hit, saw a 53.5% share. That number is up from the previous quarter’s 51.5% and on level with Q4 2015. BBC Radio had a total of nearly 35.2 million listeners.

Bob Shennan, BBC Radio and Music director said,

“With more competition for people’s time, it is heartening to see the increased relevance of live radio listening in their daily routines, and that the time they spend with us is growing again.”

The research suggests that less young people are listening to the radio. Rajar didn’t state a reason for youth decline. However, LOOP may have an answer. Last year, LOOP found that younger millennials preferred streaming over traditional radio. On-demand streaming such as Spotify and Apple Music accounted for 51% of a younger millennial’s daily listening.

When considering all age groups, that number reached 24%. Younger millennials also admitted that radio only spent around 12% of their time with radios. As time passes, radio numbers may continue seeing a significant decline. While younger people still have access to radios, they don’t engage with them as they do with their smartphones. Smartphones made up 41% of listening for teens between the ages of 15 to 19.

Despite a significant youth decline, the medium is far from dead. In the same study, Rajar found that the Kiss network’s breakfast radio show became London’s most popular commercial breakfast show. Radio 4’s Today program also recorded its highest ever audience.

2 Responses

  1. Radio Free America

    UK Radio is a hell of a lot better than USA radio and Aussie Radio in many respects..

    Firstly you have the BBC which provides multiple stations that cater from
    talk, radio drama, topic discussions etc.. to all types of music.. classical to pop to experimental and lot’s inbetween..

    Then you have commercial radio which is pretty much the same as everywhere else.. 7 records that get huge rotational play and a bunch of golden oldies..

    But the interesting thing is Britain has a thriving pirate radio scene with most playing dance/EDM or reggae types of music..

    There are community stations – lot’s of foreign language stations to cater for
    ethnic groups.. particularly in London..

    Radio Caroline are hoping to secure a community broadcast license so they can
    return to the AM band once again.. (currently they’re on the Internet and DAB)/

  2. Radio Free UK

    The downside of UK radio is that there’s too much regulation and it’s extremely hard to get a license to start your own station. This is where Australia beats the UK and America hands down..

    UK didn’t get commercial radio till 1973 or 74.. anyway.. it was a long time after the rest of the world had it.. so that’s one of the reasons there’s such a history of pirate
    radio broadcasting in Britain, Scotland and Ireland.

    The US situation is bad because the FCC and certain interest groups have made it near impossible for an individual or group that’s not affiliated with a government, church or educational entity to get a low power FM license..

    For a free enterprise country, the US has an almost communist approach to handing out licenses. The exception is for high power (50 KW plus) Shortwave, if you can satisfy the FCC of your capability both financial and otherwise.. you can start
    (construct) an International shortwave broadcasting station in the USA.

    I read somewhere that Canada is pretty bad too with issuing broadcast radio
    licenses to individuals and small groups..

    Anyway.. back to the topic.. radio has always been a popular entertainment and news outlet in the UK and although kids and the modern generation are transfixed
    on their smartphones and social media nonsense.. I don’t see radio dropping off the horizon anytime soon..