New Australian study measures listening across all audio sources

A new study by research company GfK has surveyed over 1,000 Australian teenagers and adults (10 years and older) in five major cities, via a diary system, to determine what they listen to across all audio sources. The study, called The Australian Share of Audio, is clearly influenced by the ongoing Share of Ear work done by Edison Research in the U.S. — the Edison project is acknowledged in the Australian press release.

gfk-study-300wApparently commissioned by the Australian record industry, and unveiled at the National Radio Conference in Melbourne, the executive summary of the survey is framed as a testament to broadcast radio’s priority in the listening habits of Australians. “The study revealed Australian radio (AM, FM and DAB+) has five times the daily reach of the combined streaming services (69.7% compared to 12.4%),” according to the report. Radio spot ads have been produced to promote the results.

Online audio actually accounts for more listening than the above quote acknowledges, when you add in the impact of podcasting. Podcast listening attracts 3.5% of listening time. When added to music streaming (9.2%) and online music videos (YouTube et al at 3.7%), Australian radio faces 15.4% time-spent competition from online audio sources.

In the U.S. market, Edison Research has found a similar balance of radio and other sources, but with a more progressed migration to online audio:

  • AM/FM: 54%
  • Owned Music: 16%
  • Streaming Audio 15%
  • Sirius XM: 7%
  • TV Music Channels: 5%
  • Podcasts 2%

Commercial Radio Australia (CRA), headed by CEO Joan Warner, announced it would start a marketing campaign for advertising on radio, citing the GfK survey. It will be a six-week campaign across 260 commercial stations.

RAIN Analysis (by Kurt Hanson)

The press release and the news coverage says that Australian radio is “unaffected” by streaming, that streaming has “not put a dent” in Australian radio, and that “Radio remains untouched,” but the data says otherwise.

Since Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music entered the market at approximately the same time (both Spotify and Pandora launched in Australia in 2012, with Apple Music launching more recently but building on an existing base), let’s guess that the 9.2% “share of ear” for “streaming music” is about equally split between those three brands. Let’s also presume that usage of Spotify and Apple Music exclusively takes listening away from the “owned music” category (which is probably not completely the case; some of those hours of listening could of course come out of radio’s hide).

Even with those conservative assumptions, that means that after less than four years in the market, and I believe with limited marketing, Pandora has 3.1 points of audio listening. Compared to live Australian radio’s 64.9 points, that implies that, in the average Australian metro, Pandora’s AQH is about the equivalent of a 4.8-share local radio station.  (You can double-check my math by taking 3.1 and dividing by by 64.9.)  That’s presumably a bit of a “dent,” and certainly no evidence of “untouched.”

And note that Spotify and Apple Music have similar audience sizes (or else I’m underestimating Pandora’s share of the 9.2% mentioned above).

Another issue at play in this story is the ethical question of the global market research GfK (13,000 employees, 1.5 billion Euros in revenues) seemingly taking Edison Research’s creative and unique “Share of Ear” study methodology and simply doing a carbon copy of it — not just the study design and the questionnaire, but right down to its distinctive “donut” shaped pie charts of the results!   If I was Edison Research, I would not be pleased with GfK’s behavior in this regard; speaking as a former market researcher myself, I would not consider this to be good form.

At any rate, one could certainly look at this study and say “Live Radio Remains Strong” or even “Live Radio Remains Dominant.”  It’s only “unaffected” or “untouched” that is going beyond what the data says.

Brad Hill

One Comment

  1. Two further comments:

    1. There’s been similar work done in the UK, for comparison purposes. You’ll find all three bits of data over here: https://media.info/radio/news/radio-the-audio-source-we-listen-to-most – I’d love to know of more countries doing this kind of thing.

    2. A better comparison to Australia’s 65% figure for live radio would be to combine Edison’s AM/FM and SiriusXM figure, which is 61%. For noting: this figure includes online simulcasts of AM/FM stations too.

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