In December 2017, Norway became the first country in the world to switch off national FM radio. The aim was to provide a better radio offering to listeners and create a sustainable position for radio in the face of rising competition from digital media and online services.
Just over a year after the completion of its digital switchover, a report released by WorldDAB at the Radio Days Europe conference in Lausanne, reveals how the switchover has impacted Norway’s radio listening.
Key findings of the report are:
• Total radio listening in 2019 is back to similar levels as achieved in 20161
• Radio’s daily reach is now 67 per cent of the population compared to 68 per cent in 2016
• Listeners are listening for longer – on average for 146 minutes per day in 2019 compared to 127 minutes in 2016
• 86 per cent of daily listeners now use DAB+, compared to 55 per cent in 2016
One of the major arguments for the digital transition was to increase the diversity of Norwegian radio services. DAB+ has made it possible to increase the number of free-to-air national services across Norway from five to 32 stations, greatly extending the choice available to listeners across all demographic groups. These new services have proved highly popular with listeners and now account for 36 per cent of total listening hours.
Seasonal and event-specific pop-up radio stations have also proved popular with Norwegian listeners – during the Olympic Winter Games and the FIFA World Cup, NRK Sport grew from a usual share of 1 or 2 per cent to more than 20 per cent on certain days, making it the third largest station during the events and highlighting listeners’ appetite for such pop-up stations.
The penetration of DAB+ radios – and, in particular, the proportion of cars equipped with DAB+ – has risen considerably, with almost all new cars sold in Norway (98 per cent) now including DAB+ as standard. It is expected that within the next three to four years, 80 per cent of all cars on the road will be equipped with DAB+.
“The most important development in Norway last year was how the listening development turned and began to increase again after the digital switchover”, said Ole Jørgen Torvmark, CEO of Norsk Radio and WorldDAB Board member. “Listening figures are now around the same level as before the FM switch off, and with the digital switch over behind us, the Norwegian radio industry is focusing on how we can best control the rest of radio’s distribution and user data.”