Online radio in South Africa

Digital Content

New research finds that around 5% of South Africans now listen to the radio online, while approximately 28% listen to radio content on their phones.

This is according to the Fourth South African edition of PwC’s South African entertainment and media outlook: 2013 – 2017.

The financial services firm noted that SAARF’s RAMS survey shows that around 5% of South Africans listened to radio content online in any given week, up from about 4% last year.

PwC says that the lack of a regulatory framework for Internet radio in South Africa makes it an easy platform for the establishment and expansion of radio stations.

However, the challenge is that the metrics for measuring Internet radio listenership in South Africa are also only just starting to develop. Accurate listenership figures are  crucial in determining appropriate advertising rates, which currently vary substantially.

For radio content on phones, PwC notes that this includes both radio content delivered to a phone with an FM receiver, which is free and therefore more popular, and streaming media, which remains relatively expensive given the cost of mobile bandwidth.

“Though radio is still predominately an analogue market, audiences are quickly adopting digital media on other platforms and expect radio to be similarly portable and ubiquitous.
How the radio business responds to the digital transition over the coming years will determine the shape of its long-term future,” the report said.

PwC said that the overall radio market in South Africa generated revenues of just over R3.6 billion in 2012, up from R2.65 billion in 2008.

Advertising revenues in South Africa’s radio market are forecast to continue to grow steadily, with a CAGR of 8.8% overall, topping R5 billion in 2016 and reaching approximately R5.5 billion in 2017.

Radio lost a share of advertising to other forms of media in the run up to the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and its share bottomed out at 10.9% in 2011. However, radio has bounced back and is forecast to gain share each year from 2013 and account for 12.2% of advertising spend in 2017.

Radio provides advertisers extensive reach with total audience figures in excess of 31 million listeners and the ability to be heard by a large cross section of the South African society with all age ranges, including both men and women who are regularly listening.

Zulu is the most common home language among the South African radio audience, with over 7 million listeners, followed by Afrikaans and Xhosa with just over 4 million listeners each.

Social media, the report points out, offers two-way communications between the audience and presenters (and advertisers) facilitated by SMS, online, mobile phones, social networks, podcasts and vodcasts.