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Intervention in smart speaker market unnecessary according to radio listeners

As Parliament scrutinises the government’s proposed Media Bill, a new consumer survey commissioned by techUK has found that an overwhelming majority of those who listen to radio on their smart speaker [88%] are satisfied with their current radio experience on these devices.

As Government brings forward the first significant media legislation in 20 years, it’s stated objective for the radio section of the Bill is “to ensure services are easily accessible on smart speakers”. Our survey found that most smart speaker users already feel they are able to enjoy a wide range of radio stations on their devices. 83% are satisfied with the wide choice of radio stations available on their smart speaker, whilst only 2% are unsatisfied. Similarly, 77% find it ‘easy’ to access radio stations that they want to listen to via smart speakers, compared to only 6% who find it difficult.

These findings echo a December 2022 Ofcom study where smart speakers were given to 100 people who didn’t previously have them and asked about their experiences listening to radio on these devices. A majority reported a positive overall experience, felt they were able to access radio stations that they want, and that they listened to the radio more than before. Respondents cited the wide range of available stations, enhanced accessibility and sound quality as additional key benefits. Within the latest techUK survey, among smart speaker radio listeners, ‘convenience’ was the most cited benefit of listening to radio on smart speakers [77%]. 45% of respondents appreciate their ability to control radio functionality hands free via voice activated devices, and 25% cited interoperability benefits (ie. the ability to connect their speaker to other devices).

Our findings highlight the diverse means by which UK listeners tune in. Whilst smart speaker-adoption has driven interest from new audiences and shape new listening experiences. Among radio listeners, the car radio (63%) and a home DAB or AM/FM radio (33%) are still, overwhelmingly, the most common way to listen and are complemented by a cohort enjoying radio on their smart-speakers (23%) and mobile phones (16%). 8-in-10 respondents (79%) said they would still listen to live radio on another device if it were not available via a smart speaker.

techUK CEO Julian David:

With Parliament considering if intervention in the market is necessary, our survey shows clearly that radio listeners believe it is not. Consumers overwhelmingly feel they have great access to radio stations on smart speakers, and that regulation that could increase costs is unwelcome. This highlights that despite progress in the Bill, the radio provisions are a solution in search of a problem. It’s critical that the Media Bill protects the current excellent customer experience, and avoids any new and challenging technical requirements, such as at the so-called ‘preferred route’, which could have an adverse result on the experience for customers.

More than 100 years since the first broadcast, the radio sector is thriving and making excellent use of new technology to connect to audiences. Ofcom’s latest Media Nationsreport identified record revenues of £656m for commercial radio broadcasters in 2022. Smart speakers have played a considerable role in this success story by providing more convenient and accessible ways for consumers to access content that they love, with 68% of UK smart speaker owners using their device to listen to radio. Among 18-24 year olds, 56% access radio on their smart speakers, highlighting how digital technologies are enabling a bright future for UK radio with future audiences.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,129 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th - 29th November 2023.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

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