Research: Smart speakers boost digital listening to record high

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Digital listening share has increased to 56 per cent, up from 50.2 per cent in Q2 2018, boosted by the growing popularity of smart speakers and listening online and via apps, according to RAJAR Q2 2019 data.

Across all platforms, digital listening grew by 58.9 million hours or 11.6 per cent year on year. Listening via online and apps grew by 32.3 million hours (or by 34.2 per cent) to now account for 12.5 per cent of all listening and 22 per cent of digital listening. Listening via DAB grew by 23.9 million hours (or by 6.5 per cent) year on year to now account for 38.6 per cent of all listening and 69 per cent of digital listening. Listening via DTV grew by 2.8 million hours (or by 5.9 per cent) year on year to now account for 4.9 per cent of all listening and 8.8 per cent of digital listening.

26 per cent of adults now claim to own a voice activated speaker, and 94 per cent of those use the device to listen to live radio. This has boosted online listening in home, which is now the fastest growing platform and location, increasing by 27.7 million hours (or by 44 per cent) year on year to account for 15 per cent of all in home listening.

In car digital listening grew 17.1 million hours or by 20 per cent year on year and reached a new record share of 41.8 per cent.

There was strong growth year on year across digital-only stations with KISSTORY increasing by 14.8 per cent to reach a new record of 2.323 million listeners and become the most popular digital-only station. BBC 6 Music is the leading BBC digital-only station reaching 2.285 million listeners, while BBC Radio 4 Extra grew by 13.1 per cent to reach 2.223 million listeners and BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra grew by 26.5 per cent to reach 1.484 million listeners.

Having increased its reach year on year threefold last quarter, Virgin Radio, in the second quarter since the return of The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, grew by a further 18.8 per cent compared to Q1 2019, to reach 1.545 million listeners.

Further commercial digital-only stations growing strongly year on year include Absolute 80s which grew by 15.8 per cent to reach a new record of 1.779 million listeners; Heart 80s which increased by 27.7 per cent to reach a new record of 1.495 million listeners; Planet Rock which grew by 16 per cent to reach 1.213 million listeners; Mellow Magic which grew by 21.5 per cent to reach 593,000 listeners; and talkRADIO which grew by 31.3 per cent to reach 386,000. On their first RAJAR survey period new commercial digital-only stations Scala Radio and Country Hits Radio recorded 258,000 and 208,000 listeners respectively.

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: “This is a significant moment for digital radio with a 34 per cent surge in online radio listening hours prompted by the growth of smart speakers. These speakers are now in over 26 per cent of all homes and are good news for the radio sector with most people using them to listen to live radio. Smart speakers also make it easy for people to listen to the increasing range of digital stations and have helped propel the growth of new innovative digital stations such as the new number one digital-only station, KISSTORY.”


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