Audio in 2021 – The Real Big Picture

By The BPR Team

The audio marketplace has changed rapidly over the past decade, where consumers once had limited options we’ve seen a massive expansion in what’s on offer. Where once traditional broadcast radio ruled the roost here, digital and online radio, music streaming and podcasting have all moved into this space in recent years.

However, despite this expansion in offerings, there’s been very little research on offer digging deep into the wider Audio Landscape. This is why BPR has launched it’s All Audio Study to help both our clients and the wider industry gain perspective on the current marketplace and what’s driving the changes within.

A global study, with 4000 respondents across 8 international markets, it’s one of the most in-depth studies conducted so far into the changing ways consumers are interacting with Audio. Diving deep into not just the audio audience’s topline listening behaviors, but what’s driving the interactions and overlaps between all these mediums.

4000 surveys were conducted from the 9-18th September 2021. The study was conducted with 18-54 Men & Women, demographically weighted to each market, who’d listened to some form of audio in the past week.

As a global study, it featured 500 respondents from 8 different key international cities to give a wider perspective on the trends in audio listening across many western markets. Those cities are:

  • Sydney, Australia
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Paris, France
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Madrid, Spain


At a topline level the audio environment is incredibly robust, with strong, highly engaged audiences for Radio, Streaming & Podcasting. All three Audio Mediums co-existing, with a significant audience shared between all 3 – there are few loyalists within the audio space.


Despite the growth of streaming services – Radio remains the most listened to choice.

While Radio use moves from traditional AM and FM broadcast to new distribution choices including on-line and DAB+, radio continues to be the preferred source of Audio in most of the countries surveyed here. There are some surprising differences in this pattern, however a common theme that emerges is that strong and traditional relationships between listeners and radio services provides a clear advantage and USP for Radio.

Music streaming continues to grow, although increased music streaming is not directly impacting use of Radio.

The growth and range of choice offered by streaming services continues to expand the total pool of music streaming choice for Audio users. Music streaming grows both in user numbers and frequency of use. Across the total range of markets surveyed, music streaming is dominated by Spotify and YouTube.

Podcasts offer a new and well-defined supplementary choice.

Only 30% of the market have listened to a podcast in the past week, time spent listening to podcasts is significantly lower than for either Radio listening or Music Streaming. Top Genre’s are News and Current Affairs and Comedy. There is not a huge discrepancy in podcast use between the younger and older demographics.


Some of the key listening statistics this study found:


Radio has the largest cumulative audience of all audio listening, however streamed music is close behind.

Despite increased competition, Radio (Both traditional AM/FM, Digital & Online) remains the most listened to audio platform with 77% having listened in the past week. Music Streaming is a close second here, while podcasts maintain a smaller niche of the market – not yet as yet in as wider use as audio platforms.



77% Listened to Radio in The Past Week.

Radio continuing to hold a dominate position in the Audio landscape despite the increased competition.

71% Streamed Music in The Past Week.

Music Streaming is clearly a significant competitor for Radio, these service in very wide use and on the radar for Audio Listeners.

29% Listened to Podcasts in The Past Week.

Podcasts are currently more niche, not yet in wide usage by the market, however there’s clearly a large untapped audience for the format here.


In nearly every market Radio is the most listened too audio platform.

Madrid & Stockholm are the most significant outliers here, while Moscow & Prague have the highest results for radio and the lowest for music streaming. Podcasting see’s relatively varied results across the markets researched, ranging anywhere from 17% in Moscow up to nearly 50% in Stockholm.



While Radio Has The Higher Cumulative Audience, More People View Streaming As Their Main Listening Medium.

These results highlight the shifting allegiances within the audio space, Radio has the wider reach, but music streaming is the first choice for slightly more of the marketplace

7% of respondents saying podcasting is it’s main audio type. Podcasting is still seen as an ancillary medium even amongst it’s users, something to supplement their radio & streaming listening rather than being the main attraction in of itself.

58% of radio listeners said Radio was their main source of Audio, With 37% saying Music Streaming & 5% Podcasts

For Music Streaming listeners 26% said Radio was their main source of Audio, with 68% saying Music Streaming & 7% Podcasts

Just 25% of Podcast listeners said that medium was their Main Audio type, with Radio at 26% & Music Streaming at 50% – again highlighting that podcasts are a supplemental choice for listeners


25% of Audio Listeners Have Changed Their Main Type of Audio Listened in the Past 3 Months.

With ¼ of Audio Listeners switching their main Audio format in the past 3 months, there’s clearly a high level of fluidity In Audio Listening, and it doesn’t just favor the new media players.

It’s in the younger demographics where we see with highest level of shifting allegiances, with 30% of those 18-24 switching their main audio type. For those 45-54, this falls to 21%.

There are slight variations between genders, with 27% of Men & 23%Of women changing their main audio format in the past 3 months.

Paris (7%) & Prague (18%) we’re the markets with the lowest levels of change.

Stockholm continues to be the market with the most volatility, with 59% of that city changing its main audio type over that period.


Radio Holds the Largest Slice of the Overall Audio Landscape, But Music Streaming is Close Behind

Looking at the total share of listening and again Radio remains the leading audio platform, however we again see music streaming closely matching Radio. 18-34 Music Streaming is in front, but Radio is close behind, while 35-54 Radio has a much stronger lead. Podcasting again see’s relatively similar results across demographic groups – there’s a committed audience for the audio format that isn’t as bound to broad demographics in the way Radio or music streaming listening is.


In Almost Every Market Radio Is Dominant, Stockholm However Is a Considerable Outlier

In almost every market Radio holds the largest share of listening, with music streaming in front only in London & Stockholm. Again, we see weaker performance for podcasts & Music Streaming across many of the central-European cities and in Moscow.


Spotify Dominates the Music Streaming Space

Unsuprisingly, Spotify has the largest user base of any of the music streaming services, with none of its competitors coming close to matching it. YouTube, Amazon & Apple Music all have the next highest subscription rates, but it’s clear Spotify is the clear leader within this space.


Where Does This Leave Radio?

What this study highlights is that Radio remains a relatively robust medium despite the challenges facing it from the changing audio landscape There are additional challenges and competitors in the current era, but Radio as a whole is performing strongly and the audio consumers remains highly engaged with the medium.

Radio’s Strength Remains Its Ability To Build Relationship With Listeners

Despite the increased competition from new audio sources Radio has maintained its position as the leader in the audio space What has helped drive Radio is its ability to create that connection with listeners through its brands, personalities, music localism Radio stations still remaining top of mind and having that connection with audio consumers as they continue offer a more personable, deeper relationship with their audience than music streaming can deliver.

Despite Streaming’s Wide Reach, Radio Isn’t Outmatched On The Music Front

On paper, Music Streaming should be severely undercutting Radio’s ability to make headway in the music space, offering audio consumers more choice often with limited advertising interruptions Despite this 40 of respondents said a radio station’s music mix was their main reason to listen to radio, Radio still clearly holding a position in audience’s minds as a place to go for music listening in the new environment This bodes well for Radio’s future, the medium not as vulnerable as we might expect from music streaming and there is clearly still a sizeable music driven audience for Radio despite the alternatives on offer.

With Few Exclusive Listeners, The Podcast Audience Is Still Clearly Engaged With Radio

74 of Podcast listeners are also listening to Radio, and while Podcasts as a medium is still relatively young there’s a clear relationship between it and traditional broadcast radio With Radio’s long experience in creating audio content there are significant opportunities for Radio networks to own the Podcasting space going forwards no other Podcast provider will have as direct a platform to reach potential podcast listeners with new shows, nor the same opportunity to grow the space in the years to come.


Who We Are

Broadcast Programming & Research is a market leader in data driven consultancy for broadcast networks across the globe. With over 35 years experience working with some of the world’s biggest Television & Radio Networks few media research companies have the breadth of experience and understanding of the changing audience habits and how media companies can best equip themselves to face the challenges of a shifting media environment.


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If you have enjoyed this summary of BPRs latest study on the All-Audio listening landscape, you can download the full report here.




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