Friday 28 April 2023

DAB Transition in Norway Contributes Radio Fast Losing Listeners

Problems for public service and national commercial broadcaster after leaving FM.

The report Mediebarometer 2022 by Statistics Norway (SSB), which puts numbers on the dramatic changes in the media audience in recent years, especially regarding radio and television in Norway. Norwegians now use more than two hours per day (2:07) to listen to the radio and other audio media. Here the radio has the smaller share of 52 minutes, a decrease from 1991 by about 50% (-54 min). Only 49% of the population listens to the radio (DAB, FM and Internet). In 1991, the share for radio was 71%. The percentage of youth and young adults who listen to the radio continues to fall. Four out of ten of the population listen to DAB radio on an average day, despite DAB receivers being found in 8 out of 10 households.

A previously feared fiasco is thus confirmed. When the three national broadcasters left FM, many of its listeners chose to switch to platforms other than as planned; DAB. This means that Norwegian radio is losing listeners at a faster rate than in many other countries including its Nordic neighbours. This is contrary to the objective of replacing FM with DAB in 2017.

31% have listened to some of NRK's radio channels on an average day. Public service NRK P1 is still the radio channel with the most listeners in the half of the population that listens to audio media with their smartphone.

Radio listening by age group:

"Audio media" is accounted for in addition to ”radio” and includes vinyl records, CDs, MP3 players, downloaded music and streamed music. 57% of the population listens to audio media on an average day in 2022. There has been an increase in the percentage listening to audio media in all age groups on an average day. Spotify has a superior position with 3 out of 4 listeners. The percentage of the population that listens to podcasts on an average day is 16%.

The population spent an average of 75 minutes on audio media on an average day, an increase of 11 minutes from 2021. The average listening time among those listening to audio media is 2 hours and 12 minutes, 20 minutes more than the previous year.

Young adults in particular spend the most time on audio media. Listeners aged 16 to 19 listen to audio media the longest, 3 hours and 2 minutes on an average day.

47% of the population listens to audio media with a smartphone. The largest share is found among those in the 16–24 age group, where 84% use their smartphone to listen to audio media. Streaming music is done by 37% of the population and that is a decrease from 2021, when 47% listened to streamed music.

The use of podcasts increased from 23% in 2021, to 28% of listeners in 2022. The percentage of the population that listens to podcasts on an average day is 16%. Podcasts are still most popular among 25-44 year olds and among those with higher education.

Among music listeners, it is young adults aged 16 to 24 who listen to music the most, with just over 2.5 hours a day on average. If you look at listeners to podcasts or audiobooks, it is those in the 67 to 79 age group who listen to this the most. On an average day, they listen to a podcast or audiobook for 1:56, which is almost two hours.

Spotify and YouTube are superior when we look at which apps or websites listeners use to listen to music. Among those who listen to music, 74% use Spotify, while 31% use YouTube. As with music streaming, Spotify is also the most popular app used by podcast listeners. 42% of podcast listeners use Spotify for podcast listening, and 28% use NRK.

Still, Norway is the only country in world with national radio exclusively on DAB (Local radio remains on FM). Radio broadcasters should be worried about the future when most listeners will be 65 or older. Especially broadcasters planning to leave the FM band.

Download the full report by Statistics Norway
Norwegian media barometer 2022