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Decline in Radio Listening Figures after the Digital Switchover

The total national radio listening numbers have decreased in the past year, according to figures published today by the Norwegian Media Authority (NMA). Research conducted by Kantar Media shows that there is a decline in listeners for the main channels owned by the large radio groups and a slight increase for new channels.

As with all other traditional media, radio has also experienced a decline in the number of users since 2014. From October last year to October this year there has been a decrease in daily listening from 87 to 77 minutes.

Although radio listener numbers have been declining in recent years, the figures show that the decline for the national channels overall is more pronounced from 2016 to 2017 than earlier in the period.

– There is therefore reason to believe that the increased decline in total radio listening figures in 2017 is linked to the digital switchover that has been carried out in most parts of the country, says Mari Velsand, Director of the NMA.

The decrease in radio listening figures has been expected. Kantar Media's listener numbers status report for the third quarter states that they expect the difference between 2016 and 2017 to be greatest in the fourth quarter, however radio listening figures are expected to grow in 2018.

Decline for Traditional Channels and Increase for the New

Even though the released overall radio listening figures show a decrease, the picture changes when the traditional channels (NRK P1, NRK P2, NRK P3, P4 and Radio Norge) are compared to the other channels in the report. The figures show that while the traditional channels lose listeners, listening numbers for the newer channels have increased.

- When the number of channels is expanded, listeners get more choice. It is therefore a natural consequence that the figures are distributed differently from previous years. This is an expected effect of radio digitization, says Velsand.

However, the increase in listeners for new channels does not fully compensate for the decline in listeners for the traditional channels. Overall there is still a decline in listeners when compared with last year.

Largest Drop in Listeners for NRK

When the different channel groups at the national level are compared (NRK, P4 group and Bauer Media), NRK is experiencing the biggest decline.

- Because NRK has the highest number of listeners and is also the broadcaster who has switched off its FM broadcasts first in most of the areas, it is not surprising that NRK has seen the biggest decline, says Velsand. - Bauer Media has had a small listenership increase from September to October, but the relationship between the different channel groups must nevertheless be said to have been relatively stable over the past year.

Overview of Listening Figures from the NMA

The NMA has published for the first time an overview for listening figures based on analysis from Kantar Media. Coverage, listening time and market share are measured.

- It is important for the NMA to get a good overview of the radio market now that we are in the final phase of the digital switchover. In order to monitor developments, we have purchased various listener surveys from Kantar Media, concludes Velsand.

NMA plans to publish monthly overviews of listening figures until the digital radio switchover has been completed. To ensure openness about the figures, NMA will in addition to its own analysis, publish the data received from Kantar Media in its entirety.

Growth for Local Radio

Local radio stations are not covered by the PPM data that the NMA publishes. Listener figures for local radio is collected through another survey (CATI). An overview of historical data and a presentation of earlier listener surveys can be found in a report from Kantar Media from October. Among other things the report presents the CATI-survey for the third quarter of 2017. The main findings from this survey showed that most analysed local radios stations have a stable development or growth, and overall listening growth for the analysed stations is up ten percent from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017.

Main Points in the Radio Listening Survey

(pp. = percentage points)

  1. The proportion listening to national radio decreases from 68% to 64% from 2016 to 2017.

  2. The drop of listeners increases gradually through the switch-off year. In October, the decline is 6.1 pp. From October last year.

  3. The proportion listening to the traditional channels has decreased from 66% to 54% in three years. Correspondingly the proportion listening to the new channels has increased from 14% to 27% over the same period.

  4. NRK is experiencing the largest decline of channel groups by 8.8 pp. last 12 months. The P4 group drops 1.3 pp., while Bauer Media rises 0.6 pp.

Overview of listening figures from NMA

PPM-data from Kantar Media

Status report for radio broadcasting from Kantar Media