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Radio is Switched On Again Strategies for 2020 and Beyond

Report by Keith Jopling and Mark Mulligan
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The 20,000 Foot View: Just what is radio? Radio is branded and produced show content known best in the form of live (or pre-recorded) broadcast. However, the definition of ‘radio’ is shifting away from the broadcast format and towards the content produced – programmes or shows – made available on-demand anywhere, via radio apps, smart speakers and podcasts. Radio network straplines around the world follow some form of the “radio, music, podcasts” combo. This reinvention of radio has been essential to the sector’s survival, yet takes radio into the dangerous territory of competing directly with music and audio streaming services that have been growing voraciously and absorbing more and more listener hours. 

This report looks at the changing role of music radio specifically, and the sector’s current and future challenges, particularly those arising from the competitive threat of on-demand streaming services. We look at how radio has gone from a tastemaker of new music to a validator, how the recent            pandemic has triggered a radio revival, how radio’s last bastion may be the car and what radio network brands can do to survive and even thrive, in the streaming era.

Key Insights

  • Streaming services            looking to steal radio audiences            ad-dollars, they have moved in            on key radio strongholds: the            the home (smart speakers), in            car and with podcasts
  • The impact            the above has been more            just a gradual drop off            audiences. Radio has seen its            as the primary discovery window            tastemaker usurped by streaming
  • The growth            apps and radio’s repositioning towards            listening has been accompanied by            commendable effort to hold on            existing revenues 
  • The human            in radio programming and presentation            been clearly demonstrated during the            and the national ‘lockdown’ isolation           
  • Radio programmes            trending on Twitter for the            time in years. Radio listening            (along with news, TV and            at the expense of music            services
  • The growth            podcasts – together with commercialisation            the sector spurred by Spotify’s            into the market – is            key factor in driving change            how brands and media buyers            considering audio as an advertising           
  • While radio            doing a good job holding            revenues, it continues to have            significant worries when it comes            audience behaviours: an ageing demographic,            drop off in total listening            a lack of global audience            and outdated audience measurement
  • Radio networks            to develop new business models            revenue sources, a strategy that            having brands with meaning to            across platforms
  • For radio            thrive in the streaming era,            networks need to focus on            in each of the key            in which they compete: distribution/daypart,            segments, content personalisation and business           
  • Radio is            a subscription business and must            its revenues through personalised advertising,            by monetising content through licensing            syndication to tech and streaming           

Companies and brands mentioned in this report: A Million Ads, AdsWizz, Bauer Media, BBC, Capital FM, Global Radio, Instreamatic, Magic, NPR, Pandora/Sirius XM, Radio            Radio            RadioAnalyser, Sonos, Spotify, YouTube, WARM

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