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Industry Contributor 23 Aug 2021 - 4 min read

New media doesn’t always kill old media – here’s why

By Tegan Kirkby - Client Strategy Director – ARN

Why do people think that nobody listens to radio anymore? Because there is a narrative that new media kills old media, so nobody bothers to look at evidence that doesn't fit the narrative. That's according to the smart people at Deloitte. Now agencies and advertisers need to start thinking as clearly. New media only kills old media when the content is the same – and audio is literally booming.

“Why do people think that nobody listens to radio anymore? Because there is a narrative that new media kills old media, so nobody bothers to look at evidence that doesn't fit the narrative.” – says Duncan Stewart, Director of Research, Technology & Media at Deloitte.

Being at the helm of strategic output for one of Australia’s leading media publishers, I regularly face this kind of query about who’s listening to radio. Or if people listen to both podcasts and radio. It’s usually followed by: “Should I be splitting my spend? Or moving my budgets?”

Before jumping into that battle for spend – let’s take a quick trip back in time.

Historically, yes, there are undeniable instances of new media killing old media.

The humble video store has collapsed under the pressure of myriad streaming options.

We see TV ratings services needing to adapt the way they report numbers to better suit how viewers are tuning in because having the choice to watch three episodes of your favourite show when it works for you beats the old-school need to be in front of the box at 8pm every Tuesday. 

Printed news consumption is down because the progressive newsmakers of the early 2000s – rightly or wrongly - opened their online access without a paywall, allowing for an easy switch to read daily news and creating the false expectation that news should be free.

Within more niche content like magazines, the first to tumble were the weekly tabloids –celeb gossip mags have been trumped by paparazzi shots and bite-sized goss delivered at lightning speed online.

But… here’s where it gets interesting.

Every one of these examples have something in common – the content they are providing is the same.

When Saturday night rolls around and you want a good movie to watch, flicking through a library of titles from your couch takes anyone’s vote over heading down the road to hand over $7 for it (and probably being charged a late fee a week later.)

TV shows - whether watched on TV or via streaming services or Catch Up - occurs not because it’s different content, but because we opt for watching it when we want.

News publishers lifted their content straight into online formats – doing away with the need for a printed front page.

If you’ve already read about Bennifer on; why would you need to pay for that mag to tell you it a few days later?

Put simply, new media kills old media when it’s a vehicle to get to the same content.

However, audio in 2021 has diversified, so things aren’t so black and white.

Marketers who sit in the ‘old-school versus new’ mindset might be thinking “well, no one listens to the radio anymore because of podcasts and streaming”. In reality, more people are listening to all three. The data proves it. And the reason is simple: different content.

Here's the real story:

  • Overall linear radio listening has grown 9.8 per cent* in the last five years – with new ways of enjoying radio content opening the gates to this even further, including a 58 per cent** YoY increase in listening to radio via a smart speaker.
  • Podcast consumption is positively surging – growing 53 per cent from 2020 – 2021, with 26 per cent of all Australians now listening to podcasts weekly.^
  • While video-based music access has seen declines in consumption for the last three years, Australia’s biggest audio-centric streaming services have almost doubled their weekly listener numbers across the same time period.°

One hasn’t killed the other because they serve completely different purposes.

We still turn to radio to stay connected, for a familiar and trusted voice and informative, up to date content. Radio has also remained nimble and has adapted to what consumers want – diversified versions of radio content such as Catch Up podcasts, for example, feature behind-the-scenes edits that aren’t available live on air and make for a more intimate listen.

We turn to music streaming to escape – to be uplifted, energised, motivated or taken away.

And podcasts give us a more specific, engaged listening experience – to learn, be enriched, enthused, hear points of view – or hear from people we greatly admire or can relate to.

You can’t get a podcast on the radio. You can’t choose a music playlist in your podcast. And you can’t expect your music playlist to tell you the latest news.

Which means none of these can replace the other.

And new media has only enhanced the option for all three – we can now very easily spend time with media while doing other things - long gone are the days of needing a specific  location to consume thanks to bluetooth, wireless, and even batteries giving us that freedom.

So while our eyes are getting weary of screen time, zoom time, app time and way too much scrolling and too many reels, audio is booming - when it comes to audio content, we are all ears.   


* GfK Radio Ratings | 2017-2021 | Surveys 1-2, 6-8 2020 and Surveys 1-4 2021, NB: Like-for-like comparisons made based on cancellation of Surveys 3, 4 & 5 2020 (Surveys 3-5 2020 did not occur due to COVID-19 restrictions).

**CRA | Media Release | Radio sees increase in mobile and smart speaker listening, February 2021.

^ Edison Research – The Infinite Dial 2021 | Total Australian Population 12+ per cent listen to a podcast in last week.

° Edison Research – The Infinite Dial 2021 | Total Australian population 12+  per cent used YouTube for music or music videos in last week | Total Australian population 12+  per cent listened to online audio streaming service in last week.

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Tegan Kirkby

Client Strategy Director – ARN

Market Voice

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