Digital radio at normal levels after FM switch off

(Oslo, 15 September 2017) Radio-listening is hitting the same levels as it had before FM switch off began in January 2017. The first DSO-regions in Norway already show strong listening figures.


Norwegian radio is doing a digital transition from analogue to digital radio in 2017. The digital radio shift is carried out regionally, and in Nordland County, the first area in which national radio stopped broadcasting on FM, listening figures are now hitting the same level as in 2016. 64.2 percent of residents in Nordland listened to radio in Q2, compared to 64.8 percent in Q2 last year.

“The numbers can’t be interpreted in any other way – Norwegian listeners have strong radio habits. Nordlanders are now using digital radios, and have joined the digital radio age. This is in line with the forecasts issued by Kantar TNS prior to the closure, and are also what we expect to see for the rest of the country next year”, says Ole Jørgen Torvmark, CEO of Digital Radio Norway, the organization representing the national broadcasters NRK, MTG and Bauer Media.

Stable figures

Total listening figures from radio broadcasting in Norway measures listening to remain higher than expected in the year when nationwide broadcasts stop transmitting on FM. 64,1 per cent of all Norwegians listen to radio every single day so far this year, compared to 67, 1 per in the same period last year.

“These are strong figures in the biggest conversion Norwegian radio has gone through. Prior to the radio shift, a temporary decrease in listening was taken into account, to give listeners time to do the conversion. The decline is lower than we expected”, says Ole Jørgen Torvmark.

Norwegians spend 81 minutes listening to radio every day, according to the official radio survey from Kantar TNS.

Commercial radio is growing

In areas where digital radio has taken over, listening is keeping a stable and high level. Commercial radio performs well in all digital areas, local radio had both a decline and a rise in the various areas. Public Service Radio, NRK has had a decline in listeners.

“On FM, NRK had three out of five national channels. Digitalization has increased the competition, and that is reflected in the figures. NRK has also led the way and switched off our FM transmitters earlier than our competitors in many of the regions. This trend is as expected, and it is also desired. By offering a broader set of channels, we are making radio relevant also for the future. I’m confident that NRK Radio will be as important in the years to come, as it has been in the past”, says Jon Branæs, acting Head of Radio, NRK.

Commercial radio also has a visible growth in the advertising market in second quarter. According to the Department of Advertising and Media Statistics (IRM), 369 billion Norwegian kroner have been sold in radio advertising so far this year, up 1.4 per cent from Q1. Radio is one of the few Norwegian advertising channels that shows a growth. The advertising marked for newspapers, TV and Direct marketing had a decline.

“When the revenue for commercial radio is this strong, even in a year of extinguishing FM, we see the strength in radio as an advertising channel and least but not least, we see how well the digitalization of radio has been going,” says Kenneth Andresen, CEO at the P4 Group .

Smaller channels grow

The official radio audience measures also show that smaller channels have grown at the expense of the channels that previously formed the nationwide radio offer on FM. The previous main channels decline, while new channels grow.

“The conversion to digital radio changes listening habits. The new radio service consists of 30 national channels, 25 of which have become public channels due to new DAB networks. Now, almost one third of listening, is visible in these new channels”, says mr. Torvmark.

The channels NRK P1 +, P5 Hits and Radio Rock are facing the largest growth.

“We clearly see that listeners increase their listening time on the smaller channels as they move from FM to digital radio. It’s gratifying to see that so many niche channels clearly have the right of life”, says Lasse Kokvik, CEO at Bauer Media.

Selects DAB in digital transition

The new digital radio survey, released on Friday 15.September, shows that listeners first and foremost choose DAB radio in the transition to digital radio. 82 percent of all households now have one or several DAB radios, corresponding to about 4.75 million DAB radios in total. Of these, 1.25 million DAB-radios are found in cars.

“We observe a DAB growth in the car park of about 200,000 radios since May, which is a good development. At the same time, we expect that many people to upgrade the car in the aftermath of FM shutdown”, says Ole Jørgen Torvmark.

DAB is used daily by 1.9 million people, which corresponds to 72 percent of radio listeners and is thus by far the largest of the radio platforms. 24 percent use the internet and 13 percent use television for radio listening. FM today occupies 37 percent of listeners. The numbers take into account listening on several platforms. After 2017, Norwegian radio listeners will only hear national radio broadcasts digitally.

The figures are obtained from the PPM survey (week 1-35 2017), the Cati survey (Q2 2017) and the Digital Radio Survey (weeks 35-37), all conducted by Kantar TNS.


Mari Hagerup, Head of Communications, media and external relations: / 0047 920 46 088


Background, Norwegian Digital Radio Switchover

•       Norwegian national radio becomes digital due to a long transition. In 2017, national FM broadcasts will be switched down region by region. The shutdown began in Nordland on 11 January and ends in Troms and Finnmark on 13 December.

•       Digital radio is transmitted over DAB, internet, mobile networks, and is also availabel on digital tv.

Norway has 30 national channels transmitting on DAB, and 5 national channels transmitting on FM.

•       Commercial local radios in Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen and Stavanger turn off FM broadcasts at the same time as commercial public channels.

•       Local radio continues to air on FM.