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UK Online Radio Now More Popular Than AM/FM

For the first time in UK history, listening to the radio online is more popular than listening to AM & FM. We unpick this new data to see where online radio is heading.

Lucy Rowe

by Lucy Rowe in News

Last updated 21.05.2024

Online radio overtakes amfm header

Online radio listening in the UK is now more popular than AM/FM radio, according to a recent RAJAR report.

The RAJAR 2024 Q1 results show when it comes to listening to the radio in the UK, 27.8% is done online. That's compared to only 27% for AM/FM.

Online radio listening is made up of listening on websites & apps (11.2%) and smart speakers (16.6%).

This may only be a slim lead for now. But there's a trend emerging: Online radio's share of listeners growing. While AM/FM's share is declining. This time last year, the RAJAR results showed that online radio listening had a 24.4% share and AM/FM Radio had a 32.4% share.

Image shows a man on a bench wearing headphones which are plugged into his smartphone.
Listening to radio online is becoming more and more popular.

And throughout 2023, online radio's share has increased while AM/FM's has decreased. Culminating now as online radio has overtaken AM/FM's share for the first time ever.

RAJAR results also show the majority - 62%- of radio listening happens at home. Followed by listening in vehicles at 58% and at work 13%.

This majority of home listening may be partly to thank for online radio's growing share. Listeners have more options regarding stations to listen to and how to listen. And they can use home internet packages to stream audio at no extra cost.

How Else Are People in the UK Listening to Radio?

Going from RAJAR results again, the most popular platform for listening to the radio is DAB with a 42.6% share. Digital TV makes up 2.6%.

While DAB is a popular way to listen to UK radio, getting a licence isn't always easy. Many new radio stations find the process expensive, with many hoops to jump through. But some independent radio stations - like Reform Radio and Gen X Radio - established themselves online, and then successfully applied for DAB licences.

Image shows lots of old-fashioned radio sets on shelves.
Old-fashioned radio sets like these are becoming a thing of the past.

But even with its popularity, DAB isn't right for some radio stations. Many find their creativity would be restricted by licence requirements and the Ofcom broadcasting code. For them, online radio offers the creative freedom they need. And there are countless radio stations proving online broadcasting alone gets strong listener numbers.

A Bit of Background

What Is RAJAR?

RAJAR stands for Radio Joint Audience Research Ltd. RAJAR measures audience listening in the UK radio industry.

RAJAR measures listening across BBC stations and licensed commercial stations. It's co-owned by the BBC and RadioCentre. RadioCentre is the trade body representing many UK commercial radio stations.

How Are RAJAR Results Collected?

RAJAR collects data by having listeners complete a 7-day diary based on their listening habits. It’s either a paper diary or an online diary. Each diary is customized to be reflective of the station’s available in the participants area. More info on RAJAR’s surveying can be found on their website.

To Wrap Up

It's undoubtedly an exciting time for online radio. We've seen it go from niche to mainstream, as there is a demand for content that isn't offered by traditional stations. Online radio has also removed some of the barriers for entry and made the broadcasting landscape more reflective of the world we live in. Even those traditional stations now broadcast online, recognising listeners want a streaming option and not to be restricted by geography.

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