Radio Remains Surprisingly Dominant in the U.K., Survey Finds — But Younger Listeners Are Unsurprisingly Embracing Streaming

traditional radio
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traditional radio
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Traditional radio remains surprisingly popular in the U.K., but younger listeners are turning elsewhere for music, according to a new survey. Photo Credit: Jonathan Gallegos

Another report is shedding light on radio’s continued reach – though the medium’s surprising popularity is far less pronounced for listeners under the age of 25.

These newest radio stats pertain to the U.K. market and emerged in the spring 2024 MIDAS Survey, in which 2,143 individuals, age 15 and up, participated. Notwithstanding the continued growth and comparative functionality of on-demand streaming – as well as questions about radio’s identity in 2024 – AM/FM in particular remains rather popular both domestically and across the pond.

That’s according to a variety of studies and surveys, now including today’s findings. Of course, it isn’t a secret that younger fans are generally more partial to streaming and other digital formats. But for several reasons, from gauging AM/FM’s long-term trajectory to staying apprised of its near-term advertising relevance, the numbers behind the trend are meaningful.

Running with the point, the noted resource relays that a whopping 54 million U.K. adults listen to audio of some kind (excluding video programming) on a weekly basis. Specifically when it comes to live radio, by age group, consumption is highest for those over the age of 55 (92 percent) and those between the ages of 35 and 54 (also 92 percent).

And in the U.K.’s 25 to 34 demographic, 85 percent listen to radio weekly, the document shows, compared to 76 percent for the 15 to 24 category.

Notably, even the lowest of those radio-listenership figures, 76 percent for under-25s, is higher than the 70 percent of the same group that use on-demand streaming offerings weekly. Meanwhile, just 16 percent of over-55s listen via an on-demand service like Spotify or Apple Music, against 38 percent for 35-54s and 50 percent for 25-34s.

Although many of these listeners undoubtedly flip on the radio (or otherwise encounter the medium) due to ease of access, there are diehard fans in the ranks as well. According to the survey, one in 10 U.K. residents over the age of 15 opts to “go back and listen to their chosen radio content” following its initial broadcast. Per the breakdown, that includes only six percent of those between 25 and 34 and an astonishing 57 percent of over-55s, who evidently possess at least some knowledge of digital listening.

Overall, two main takeaways stand out from the report. Most obviously, traditional radio is here to stay for the foreseeable future – but it’ll be worth closely monitoring the commercial effects of younger listeners’ apparent preference for streaming.

Additionally, on-demand streaming still has ample room to grow even in established music markets like the U.K., which trailed only the U.S. and Japan last year. Just 36 percent of the U.K. population (the nation’s home to almost 70 million people) utilize an on-demand platform weekly, with 28 percent of the group under 25 years old and 50 percent under 35, the April survey’s results show.