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The audio market has continued to evolve, with the segment now covering a range of products that consumers use to access audio services. The traditional stronghold of terrestrial radio is now fully complemented by streaming, podcast, and catch-up services.


What was once referred to simply as “Radio” may now be better referred to as “Audio” as the competition for share of people’s time listening to content intensifies.

This segment was traditionally led by linear radio delivered through terrestrial and digital audio broadcasting (DAB), with music, podcasts, and live radio streaming a small percentage of the industry. As consumers’ choice for audio content increases, coupled with the 2020 decline in traditional radio revenue, the market is close to an even split between consumer and advertising revenue. 

The total segment declined 8.1 percent in 2020 to A$1.5 billion. As audiences return to more predictable listening patterns within key dayparts, terrestrial radio will see a recovery, however, it is not predicted to return to 2019 levels within the forecast period. Streaming will continue to see growth of 12.0 percent CAGR to 2025 based on the midpoint forecast scenario as podcasting and music streaming offer alternative ways to access audio content for consumers. 

Much of 2020’s consumer surveying was cancelled due to COVID-19, but when surveying resumed in September, talk back radio grew its share to dominate radio listenership.

Terrestrial radio has always been a trusted and reliable source of up-to-date and essential news in Australia during times of crisis, and COVID-19 was no exception. The talk show dominance of the AM bands is no surprise during challenging times as people sought insights regarding the latest issues as they occurred. While metropolitan stations saw a decline in revenue over 2020, regional radio was reported to have largely held on to its share. During sometimes confusing border closures, regional stations demonstrated the power that terrestrial radio still has to provide localised real-time content to those most in need while also being supported by local advertisers.

The evolution of the terrestrial radio offering to embrace purpose-built applications has provided a tailored listening opportunity for audiences while also fulfilling the critical news source role. 

The ability to engage with key programs in real-time and thus create a tailored audio experience adds to the segment’s relevance and retention during a highly competitive period. These advances blur the lines between live radio and streaming in some instances, although the retention of audiences is rapidly becoming more critical than the method through which they engage.   

It is expected that the terrestrial radio market will follow other channels in developing capability for the automated trading of advertising inventory. Should a common portal for all asset types be developed it would help simplify the audio ecosystem and improve accessibility for buyers. As well as simplifying the buying process, further steps will need to be taken on the provision of broadcast and digital audience data across platforms to retain buyer demand.

Streaming services continue to grow as radio operators evolve their offerings to capture live and streamed audiences, increasing targeting opportunities for advertisers.

Streaming listenership continues to grow in Australia. The marketplace is dominated by Spotify, and iHeartRadio and TuneIn continue to retain a share of the market. Competitors, such as the SCA Listnr platform, which offer live radio, podcasts and other audio content, have benefited from extensive in-program promotion, helping migrate live listeners to additional listening opportunities. Much of the audio revenue growth in the forecast period is expected to come from the ongoing increase in subscription revenues in streaming. Although the sub-segment is disproportionately skewed towards consumer subscription revenue, advertiser spend will also continue to grow as audience targeting and outcome measurement develops alongside the use of digital-only features such as dynamic advertising across the various platforms. 

Another example of the shift towards consumer-led audio is the innovation occurring within live streaming. The US-based app Clubhouse launched in 2020 as an invitation-only service where users live stream or host discussions. It gained wider attention through celebrity users and has led Twitter, Facebook and Spotify to develop similar streaming offerings.  

The Australian podcast market is growing steadily. The number of monthly listeners (defined as people aged 12+ who listened to at least one podcast in the last month) reached 25 percent of the Australian population in 2020, up from 17 percent in 2017.1

Spotify, YouTube, and Apple, continue to dominate podcast listening. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ABC Listen app service is the most-used local source, and the Acast and SCA’s Listnr apps are growing their audience. The 2020 Australian Podcast Awards2 highlighted the breadth of local talent and variety of content, demonstrating that the medium is growing in popularity and maturity in the content produced. From the overall winner Birds Eye View, which tells the stories of women in a Darwin correctional facility, through to ABC’s Coronacast with Dr Norman Swan, Australia’s interest in newsworthy and long-form content continues to grow.

In 2020, the true crime genre continued to feature across all notable charts. There was a marked increase in experience storytelling coupled with strong listenership across terrestrial radio show catch-up podcasts. Of the 420 million podcast downloads measured by Triton, 101.3 million were of radio show content. While a tumultuous year in global health and politics may have influenced listenership, such high volumes (85.3 million) for a deeper level of storytelling, news and lifestyle content is perhaps a precursor to a different type of news engagement for audiences who are looking to go beyond headlines to gain a deeper understanding of the world and people around them.3 Podcasts have been seen as a growing opportunity for advertisers and are expected to continue to be as the format further develops its buying and measurement capabilities.


Q1 2021 Highlights

  • Advertiser demand for radio is returning, though not at the rate seen in TV, with radio still down -10.6 percent year-on-year.4

  • SCA’s Listnr app launches and the growing volumes of podcast listenership point to ongoing reconfiguration in the segment. 

  • According to Triton’s Podcast Measurement service, 50.2 million podcasts (excluding ABC) were listened to in Australia in May 2021, with podcast listeners expected to reach 15.4 million by 2025.5

The 2020 Australian Podcast Awards highlighted the breadth of local talent and variety of content, demonstrating that the medium is growing in popularity and maturity of the content produced.

Forecasts at a glance

Terrestrial Radio Market (A$ millions)

CAGR 2019-2025 based on the midpoint forecast scenario

Terrestrial Radio -1.1%

Streaming Audio Market (A$ millions)

CAGR 2019-2025 based on the midpoint forecast scenario

Streaming Audio 12.0%

Total Radio Market (A$ millions)

CAGR 2019-2025 based on the midpoint forecast scenario

Total Radio Market 3.6%

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