Radio’s future role in cars: Edison and WorldDAB

Car buyers from across the globe said that broadcast radio is their most preferred source of in-car entertainment and it’s important therefore that car makers fully understand their customers’ attitudes to broadcast radio in the car dash.

A WorldDAB webinar took a deep dive into the data behind the headlines of the recent Edison Research Car Buyers Survey to give broadcasters, car buyers and their supply chain a deeper understanding of the trends, features and behaviours driving the car buyer’s decision making.

Tom Webster SVP, Edison Research, presented the findings of research from Australia, France, Germany, Italy the UK and the US that was conducted over a three week period in September 2021 and involved over 6,000 people.

Importantly the survey was about Broadcast over the air radio, not streamed radio.

Respondents were 18+ and to qualify must have been involved in the purchase or lease of a 2018 or newer vehicle in the past two years or were going to be involved in the purchase of a 2018 or newer vehicle in the next twelve months.

Radio is still consumed by 68% of Australians on a daily basis and almost 90% of respondents weekly, with most listening taking place in the car.

The survey found that almost all in-car radio listeners say that radio should be standard equipment, and when purchasing a car, it is valued ahead of USB port, Bluetooth or smart phone connection.

Radio is also the top audio choice for car buyers (AM/FM/DAB/DAB+) ahead of Bluetooth connections, USB Port and the CD Player.

Laurence Harrison (RadioPlayer Worldwide) Dir of Automotive Partnerships says his company’s research over the past 6 years has returned similar results, showing the preference for radio in cars among perspective buyers and owners.

He says this new research underlines that broadcast radio is an enduring medium and it continues to be really important for car buyers, and that this research shows “…the real value that people put on radio so we believe it should be prominent and easy to access…and we need to invest in the user experience.”

NAB Executive VP Industry Affairs, April Carty-Sipp says that in Australia AM stations rank as number one in a number of radio markets, especially among news and talk formats, similar to the US, and that during the pandemic listeners have not only been listening for critical news and updates, but for entertainment and escape via music and sports.

Joe D’Angelo (Xperi), says that at the core people care about radio and engage because of the  quality and breadth of the programming and the connection to its community, and that this “…is probably one of the biggest emotional drivers behind new car buyers requirement of having radio is to retain that connection and immediacy with the community.”

While Australia, Italy and the US most listeners tune in while in the car, this wasn’t the same worldwide with countries like Germany doing most of their listening at home.

Edison’s research also found that while most in-car listening is to radio, interestingly 41% of Australians surveyed said they listened to audio though their mobile phone, but 65% said they would not listen to their favourite radio station if they could only listen online.

This result for was similar for all countries surveyed with, especially among the 18-44 age groups.

Radio’s reliability and the fact that it is free is seen as important reasons that listeners would shy away from the data cost of on-line stations.

The webinar moderator from WorldDAB and Senior Director Program Management at NXP Semiconductors, Ron Schiffelers, says “I think radio has some unique aspects that will always be loved…but people say, I also want streaming and I also want USB.”

He says the future of radio in cars hinges on the integration of all the functions now being offered in cars “…because they can merge together, they can be used together and that is one of the ways to go to the future and one of the innovations (for car makers) to go for, and to keep radio as one of the interesting aspects of the whole set of features that are there”




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