ofcom media nations

Ofcom isn’t just the UK’s communications regulator: it’s also one of the most useful sources of consumer research on shifting media habits there. Its latest Media Nations report has plenty of points of interest for the music industry, and given the UK’s status as a major music market, likely beyond its borders too.

One key finding: live radio’s share of audio listening time has shrunk from 75% in 2017 to 63% in 2022, while music streaming services’ share has grown from 8% to 20% over that period. Avoid too many overconfident predictions about the death of radio – nine in ten British adults still listen to live radio each week – but streaming’s impact is clear.

That’s particularly true for younger listeners. Streaming is now 47% of 15-34 year-olds’ weekly audio listening in the UK, up from 22% in 2017. “How young adults aged 15-34 spend their time listening is quite different to the behaviour of the
overall population,” as Ofcom noted. “For this age group, live radio on a radio set’s share of listening was around a quarter of total time, a considerable decline from 44% in 2017.”

Ofcom’s research also claims that Spotify Premium accounts for 62% of time spent streaming music in the UK by all adults, with its free service accounting for another 8%. That’s well ahead of Apple Music’s 8% share, and 13% for Amazon’s services (6% for Prime Music and 7% for Music Unlimited)

There is also some interesting data on short-video watching in the UK. 32% of online adults are now watching short-form video daily, although that rises to 69% of 15-17 year-olds and 65% of 18-24 year-olds. Of those 15-17 year-old short-video watchers, 93% do it on YouTube, 90% on Instagram, 73% on TikTok and 64% on Snapchat, indicating voracious cross-app habits.

Music is the fourth biggest category of short-video content according to Ofcom’s survey: watched monthly by 56% of short-form viewers, behind only news (59%), videos uploaded by the general public (60%) and how-tos (64%). The platforms providing this content are also growing their viewing time. 15-24 year-old Brits average 57 minutes a day on TikTok and 46 minutes on Snapchat.

Combined, that’s more than the 90 minutes they average watching TV a day – although of course, these activities are far from mutually exclusive. Still, it’s a fun comparison to think about: while short video is broadly seen by the music industry as a signal-booster for its output (if also sometimes a burnout-inducer for its artists) in the TV world, the viewing share of the short-video platforms is a more troubling competitive challenge for traditional broadcasters.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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