Market View

Can the internet radio service 'radiko' save radio?!

2013/1/24 Thursday
fromTTBy Account Executive, Toru Miyamoto

A mass media research firm recently announced that only 6.8% of Japanese homes, with a radio receiver are now listening to radio programs. This is the lowest figure for the last 20 years. The number of people listening to radio has been in steady decline. This decline is especially acute among the young generation. The number of radio listeners under the age of 20 is now estimated to be only 25% of that in the 1980s.

Today, however, there is one new hope for the radio industry to increase its audiences. 'radiko' is the Internet service, which provides radio programs on the Internet. Since its inception in 2010, 'radiko' has gradually increased its audiences. In 2012, monthly audience of 'radiko' reached 1,000,000 and that number is dramatically increasing. But why 'radiko' is so popular?

One of the reasons is that not only standard radio receivers but also PC's and smart phones are now able to receive radio broadcasts. PC's enjoy over an 80% home penetration rate in Japan. Meanwhile, smart phone sales are now 25% of total number of mobile phone sales of 120,000,000. Moreover, 50% of those age 20-39 use smart phones. In other words, these new media devices allow people to have the opportunity to listen to radio more easily than ever before.

In particular, smart phones have contributed to the increase in the numbers of radio audiences. As a rule, radio programs tend to create personal and intimate relationship between the DJs and their audiences. Therefore, radio programs become more enjoyable when listeners listen to programs alone. Needless to say, smart phones are the device for individual use. Therefore, smart phones are considered the best device for listening to radio programs. Because of increased share of smart phones, young people who were not formerly familiar with radio are now starting to listen to radio. One survey shows that the average age of 'radiko' users is 10 years younger than conventional radio audiences.

Another reason why Internet radio broadcasts, or 'radiko', are popular is that in this day and age, radio stations have started to produce programs, which specifically target Internet users. They are not just simply providing radio programs on PC and smart phones. They are also creating a link between radio programs and SNS, such as Twitter and Facebook, and official program pages on the Internet. By accessing these SNS sites and Internet page, audiences are now able to enjoy radio shows in new ways. For instance, when listener's tweets during a radio show, the DJ is able to read and introduce the tweet. This allows the DJ and audiences to establish new and more intimate relationships. Also, using SNS sites brings new audiences thanks word-of-mouth.

'radiko' is still in its infancy, but it is already helping the radio industry gain new audiences. However, how they can continue to be attractive for those new audiences from now on is a considerable next task. As a radio fan, I am excited to see how the radio industry will continue to revitalize itself in the future.