Radio listening in the Nordic countries 2016

NEWS | 16 June 2017

More than seven of ten Nordic people listen to the radio every day, via FM/DAB or live transmissions online. This means that listening to flow radio remains fairly stable. Podcasts, however, are still for the few. This is shown in Nordicom's compilations of 2016 radio data in the Nordic countries.

The industry's official radio data, on which Nordicom's statistics are based, include analogue and digital flow radio. (Data do not include on-demand radio and podcasts.)

Stable listening, but decrease over time
In 2016, seven of ten Nordic people listened to the radio on a daily basis, which is the same level as the year before. Listening time, however, decreased slightly in Denmark, Iceland and Norway, increased in Finland, and remained unchanged in Sweden. In all countries, older people listened more to radio than younger people.

Still, seen over a longer period of time, radio has dropped in both reach and listening time in all age groups.

Strong public service radio
Among the broadcasting companies, public service radio stands for the largest combined audience shares. In Sweden and Denmark, public service radio accounts for more than three quarters of the listening time. In Sweden SR stands for the entire share (77 per cent), while in Denmark DR and the privately owned public service channel 24syv account for 73 and 3 per cent, respectively.

NRK in Norway has slightly more than two-thirds of the listening time, while Yle in Finland and RÚV in Iceland claim about half of the listening time in their respective countries.

The largest radio companies by audience shares in 2016 (per cent)

Sources: Kantar TNS Denmark, Finnpanel, Gallup Iceland, Kantar TNS Norway, Kantar Sifo Sweden. Download full-size graph (PDF)  Download table (excel)

The Nordic private radio sector is dominated by a few major companies, of which two have strong positions in several countries: Bauer Media, with operations in all Nordic countries except Iceland; and MTG in Norway and Sweden. Bauer Media is the largest commercial player in Denmark, Sweden and Finland, while MTG Radio is the largest in Norway. In Iceland the domestic 365 Media (365 miðlar) is the major commercial player.

Digital channels on the top-five lists
The major radio channels have lost listeners over the years, but still maintain a high reach and a significant share of the listening time.

In every Nordic country except Iceland, one broad public service channel dominates: DR P4, Yle Radio Suomi, NRK P1 and SR P4. All are generalist channels, with a mix of national and regional broadcasts. Iceland's two major channels – Bylgjan, the country’s nationwide commercial radio station, and RÚV2 – each has around a third of the listening time.

The five largest radio channels in each Nordic country by audience share 2016 (per cent)

1) In Finland, the fifth position is shared by YLE Radio Vega/Radio X3M, Radio Rock and Iskelmä (4 per cent audience share, respectively). Sources: Kantar TNS Denmark, Finnpanel, Gallup Iceland, Kantar TNS Norway, Kantar Sifo Sweden.
Download full-size graph (PDF)  Table: Channels' audience shares 2000, 2005-2017 (Excel)

Parallel to the major channels holding their positions, new channels have found their audiences. In 2015, digital channels from DR and NRK entered the top-five list of channels with the highest audience share. In 2016, DR's digital channel P5 ranked fourth on the list and NRK's ​​P1 + fifth. Both channels focus on adults or older listeners.

Podcasts still for the few
The output of digital audio media – such as FM channels’ webcasts, digital channels, programmes on demand, podcasts and streaming music services – is increasing. And the same is true for access to and listening via digital devices.

Still, listening to on-demand radio or podcasts is limited, and the previous growth seems to have stopped, according to DR Audience Research in Denmark and Kantar Sifo in Sweden. In Denmark, one in ten Danes listened to podcasts weekly in both 2015 and 2016. In Norway, two per cent of the population listened to podcasts in 2016 (Norwegian Media Barometer survey). We have no data for Finland or Iceland.

In Sweden, 12 per cent of the population listened to online radio/podcasts weekly in 2016 – an increase from 9 per cent the year before – but the data also include listening live on the web. The most avid listeners are 25-44-year-olds (Swedish Media Barometer survey).

What is happening in digital Norway?
The most important change on the Nordic radio market is currently taking place in Norway. The closing-down of the FM network began in January, and in 2017 the nationwide radio will be fully digitalized.

But what is happening to radio listening in the world's first transition from FM to DAB? New measurements indicate decreased listening, but as to what will have happened in a full-year perspective, we will know this at the beginning of 2018. (Meanwhile, see Kantar TNS's presentation from January 2017: The world's first FM switch off: What happens to the listening?)


Download tables from Nordicom's table database (Excel files):
Daily radio listening time 2000-2016
Daily radio listening time by age 2008-2016
Radio channels' audience shares 2000, 2005-2016
Public service radio audience shares 2000-2016

Daily radio reach 2000-2016
Daily radio reach by age 2008-2016
Radio channels' daily reach 2000, 2005-2016
The five largest radio channels/networks per country by daily reach 2016 - graph
Daily readio reach by age for public service, commercial radio and total radio, 2016

More tables are available in Nordicom's table database (choose Nordic countries – Radio)

About the statistics: Nordicom compilations are based on data from the national survey institutes responsible for the official radio surveys. Differences in methods impair comparability between countries and years; see ”Radio surveys in the Nordic countries, basic facts” (Excel). Data are compiled both directly from the national survey institutes (reports and websites) and through our Nordic network : Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces, Statistics Finland, Statistics Iceland, medianorway and Nordicom-Sweden.

Main sources:
DR Audience Research Department: Media Development in Denmark 2016 (data from Kantar Gallup Denmark)
Danish Agency for Culture & Palaces: Mediernes udvikling i Danmark 2017 - radio (in Danish)
Finnpanel: Radio listening in Finland 2016
Gallup Iceland (in Icelandic)
Kantar TNS Norway: Årsrapport for radiolytting i Norge 2016 (annual report in Norwegian)
Kantar TNS Norway via medienorway's database (in English)
Kantar Sifo: Radiolyssnandet i Sverige 2016 (annual report in Swedish)