Radio is standing firm in a media landscape being reshaped by digital technology, with 47 million people in the UK expected to tune in at least weekly in 2019, according to a report by Deloitte's technology, media and telecommunications practice.
Despite being a 99-year-old medium, radio will maintain its hold on UK media consumption. It is a trend that is echoed worldwide, with global radio revenues forecast to grow marginally to £31.6bn. Deloitte forecasts that nearly three billion people globally will listen to radio weekly, representing a 1% increase on 2018.
The UK is the fifth-largest market for annual radio revenues, which hit £1.3bn in 2017. The US is the global leader, with revenues of £17.2bn, followed by Germany, which generated £3.1bn.
Paul Lee, Deloitte's global head of research for technology, media and telecoms, said: "Due to the rise of on-demand media and streaming services, many underestimate the influence radio still holds. The perception that video or indeed streaming has killed the radio star is simply not the case. Whether it’s in the car, over breakfast or even at work, the vast majority of people in the UK still have at least one ear on the airwaves during the course of the day. Radio is alive, well and enjoyed by all ages."
Lee added that radio advertising is often an overlooked medium in terms of the brand influence it can have on consumers.
"As traditional media and television viewing figures continue to struggle, listening figures for radio are holding steady," he said. "Radio will continue to play an integral role in advertising campaigns for years to come. In a world where digital changes everything, radio may be the exception."
This year will also see the roll-out of 5G hardware, albeit at a tentative pace. According to Deloitte, about 20 handset vendors will launch 5G-ready handsets in 2019, with the first available in the second quarter. Approximately one million 5G handsets will be shipped globally by the end of the year, out of a total of 1.5 billion smartphones.
The UK will account for roughly 50,000 of all 5G-enabled phones shipped in the coming year, in spite of the fact that no 5G networks exist in the UK yet and no firm dates have been given by mobile networks.
Operators are currently trialling 5G and are expected to roll out services in 2019. EE, for instance, aims to turn on 5G in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester by mid-year.
Meanwhile, the 5G-ready Samsung Galaxy S10 is expected to be unveiled in February.
The Deloitte report also predicts that smart speakers will be the fastest-growing connected device globally in 2019, up 63% year on year in sales and generating £5.6bn in revenues. As of mid-2018, 12% of UK adults (equating to approximately 6.2 million) had access to a smart speaker, compared with 22% and 19% of adults in urban China and the US respectively.