The Daily Mail online reports that Internet radio listening in Britain is on a steady increase, with 17.4 million listeners said to be streaming radio content last month. That number is up from a 14 million-plus figure posted in mid 2007, and represents almost 28 percent of England's current population.
Although official ratings figures provided by Radio Joint Audience Research Limited (RAJAR), pegs the number of online streaming listeners at a somewhat lower 14 million, they also indicate that about 8 million Brits download podcasts, and that both types of listening are increasingly popular.
Several reasons are cited for the increase:
Increased use of broadband "Smartphones" -- up from 11.6 perecnt in 2008 to 13.5 percent in 2009
Home broadband penetration -- which jumped from 56 percent to 63 percent during the past year
International and specialized content online that is unavailable via conventional domestic or International broadcast services
One other observation worth noting is that Brits seem to be using Web audio services to supplement, rather than replace terrestrial broadcasting services.
Online listening is expected to receive another boost with a planned 2010 launch of the BBC's "Radioplayer" site, designed to provide one-stop access to over 400 commercial and BBC radio channels in the UK.