The latest research on ‘Digital Audio Consumption and Behaviour’ has just been released by the IAB and RedC. This survey was conducted online in June with a representative sample of 1014 Irish adults over 18 years of age.

Below we include our analysis of this research with some key findings.

Executive Summary:

  • Digital audio listenership consolidated the gains it made during the pandemic with 2.53 million Irish adults (71%) listening in an average week in 2021.

  • Rising from 66% in 2019, to 71% now the consumption of digital audio has remained steady year on year, despite increased mobility in the population due to the opening up of the economy when compared with the last wave.

  • In 2021, 15% of digital audio listeners do not listen to FM radio, more than a 100% increase from the position in 2020 proving that digital audio adds meaningful levels of incremental cover to radio campaigns.

  • This real gains in incremental reach are found amongst younger people (18-34 year olds) and listeners to on-demand music and podcast listeners.

  • A notable proportion claim that compared to a year ago, they now listen to more online music / online radio (44%) and podcasts (60%).  Around 1 in 3 say they expect this consumption to increase even further in the next 12 months.


Market Size:

  • 71% of Irish Adults listen to digital audio at least once each week which equates to 2.53 Million people. This figure is in line with last year’s figures but up from 66% in 2019.

  • 51% of digital audio listeners are male, 49% users are female in line with last year’s figures.

  • 18-44 year olds continue to be heavier listeners of digital Audio.

  • 32% of listenership is in Dublin, while 26% is in the rest of Leinster, 27% in Munster and 16% in Connacht and Ulster.


Incremental Reach:

  • 15% of digital audio listeners do not listen to FM radio, doubling from 7% in 2020 showing how digital audio can be relied upon to add more & more cover to traditional FM radio campaigns or increasingly be relied upon to deliver a distinct audience.

  • This Incremental reach figure is most noticeable for the 18-34 year old age cohort. The figure rises to 22% for 18-24’s and 26% for 24-34s.

  • By channel the gain in Incremental reach is most noticeable for on-demand music at 17% and podcast listening at 17%.


Time Spent / Media Substitution:

  • 33% of digital audio listeners are listening daily, this equates to a figure of almost 1 million Irish Adults 18+, of whom close to a quarter of a million are listening to on-demand music.  
  • Average listening time is 15.3 hours per week, this is down slightly compared to 16.6 hours in 2020 but still an increase of 3 hours compared to 2019. The fall in consumption we believe is linked to the lifting of COVID restrictions.
  • 18-24 year olds are listening to digital audio 19 hours per week, while 25-34 year are the heaviest digital audio listeners spending 20.6 hours per week.

  • There is a apparent male bias with men listening for 17 hours per week while women listen 13.6 hours per week.


Digital Audio Behaviour:

  • The smartphone continues to dominate as the most popular device for digital audio listening at 73%, with car in joint second position at 28% and smart speakers at 25%.

  • Ownership of smart speakers continues to grow with 35% of homes now having one up 25% from the last wave. 14% are planning to buy a smart speaker in the next 12 months.


Content Consumed:

  • The most popular type of digital audio content in Ireland is On- Demand Music at 64% listenership up 5% wave on wave. Live radio in second place is steady at 42% with podcast weekly listenership up almost 14% to 33%. Digital Audio has been and remains the primary engine driving digital audio consumption.

  • The most popular types of content consumed include Music, News and Politics, Comedy and Entertainment, There was no change in the ranking from 2020.

  • The top 3 activities when listening to digital audio include Household Chores, Relaxing and Driving. Again same ranking as 2020.


The Future:

  • Approximately 1 in 3 expect to increase digital audio consumption next year.

  • 44% listen to online radio or music more than a year ago. 30% expect to increase their listening to online radio and music in the next 12 months, up 30% wave on wave.

  • 60% listen to online podcasts more than a year ago. 32% are expected to increase their podcast listening in the next year, up 28% wave on wave.

  • In terms of media substitution, 35% listen less to traditional radio FM broadcasting as a result of their digital audio listening.  21% watch less TV and 20% spend less time on social media compared to a year ago due to online radio, music or podcasts listening.

  • Nearly half of users (46%) say online radio, music or podcasts has introduced them to new content which is a very strong insight. This is up 50% wave on wave.

  • 39% of users are willing to listen to advertising in return for great free content. This is also up 50% wave on wave.

Source: Listen Up Ireland, Irish Research into Digital Audio Consumption & Behaviour, IAB Ireland & RedC, June 2021.

The full report can be here viewed here.