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Primedia Broadcasting: Audioscope 1st Wave

Melissa McNally – Consulting Specialist: Research: Primedia Broadcasting

Due to COVID-19, 2020 saw significant behavioural and media consumption changes. As a result, understanding consumer behaviour in the audio landscape became more important and research became pivotal in understanding the needs of listeners in a dynamic environment.

As the need and demand for new data grew in the industry (amongst our clients and internally), the Primedia Broadcasting research team undertook the task of creating an internal audio performance tracker. Our intention was to understand how stations perform in an ever-changing and dynamic media landscape. The result was Audioscope - a listening behaviour tracker launched in October 2020 with data specifically representative of Gauteng and the Western Cape. Data was collected using our research panel, Primeconnect, and was rolled over a three-month period to allow for quarterly reporting. Further to this, we have been collecting data throughout the various lockdown levels to understand the shifts in listener behaviour in order to keep our clients as well as our station managers updated.

From the data and various international studies, we can see how audio became more relevant in 2020 with many brands such as Shell and Coca Cola turning to audio specific strategies. Globally, Bauer media saw an increase in smart speaker usage during lockdown. Further to this, radio listeners on our panel mentioned that they had increased their radio listening, as well as their podcast and streaming radio usage - a trend supported by other third-party research in the industry. In line with global findings, our listeners also indicated that they were tuning in for their usual shows. Global research indicated that presenter relationships with listeners had increased in importance as humans looked for more meaningful connections.

With many people shifting to a work-from-home scenario, we experienced an increase in radio listening occurring at home, followed by in-car listening and at-office listening. But notably, this has resulted in more radio listening via mobile devices. We’ve also seen an increase in TV listening, meaning regional stations are starting to see national footprints. There is certainly a need to consider mobile and app-based audio strategies based on listener shifts observed.

In the Audioscope research, we found that the main content drivers amongst the Western Cape and Gauteng audience were similar, with slight variations in ranking. Weather, news, music and traffic all play an important role. We've also noted that an interest in community news is gaining traction over time in both regions. When examining topics specifically pertaining to COVID-19, financial and mental health topics have been ranked as being of utmost importance to our listeners. As a result, our stations adapted their content offering to address these specific listener needs.

All our research findings have been used to assist programming and to generate a deeper understanding of the listener in a rapidly changing landscape. The past year has revealed a great need for data in the radio and audio landscape. It's an exciting time for the industry - we look forward to data and research leading the way in the South African radio landscape.

Some highlights from the study:

· 44% of radio listeners agreed that they listen to more radio during lockdown (up from 36% in lockdown level 2)

· 63% of radio listeners stated that they still tune in for their usual shows and features

· 31% of listeners increased their online/radio streaming

· 19% of radio listeners increased their Podcast usage

· 81% of Gauteng radio listeners listen from home

· 45% of listeners in Gauteng and 43% in the Western Cape have used a radio app

· 50% of listeners in Gauteng and 39% in the Western Cape have listened to podcasts

· There's a notable spike in radio listening on Fridays in both regions

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