Radio still in driving seat for motorists’ in-car entertainment

Listening to the radio is still the most popular form of in-car entertainment.

Listening to the radio is still the most popular form of in-car entertainment. - Credit: supplied

Eight out of 10 drivers would never consider buying a new car without a radio, according to the biggest ever survey of driving across the UK, France and Germany.

Drivers think radio is as 'vital as tyres and a steering wheel', according to research launched at the European Broadcasting Union conference in Geneva this week.

All respondents had bought one of the top 20 European car brands within the last three years, ensuring a fair comparison between radio and alternative audio options – like music streaming and smartphone integrations – in mordern cars.

The results show radio's continued dominance of the dashboard:

Essential – 82% of drivers would not consider a car without a radio.

Dominant – 75% of all in-car listening is to the radio.

Frequent – 84% always or mostly listen to the radio on every journey.

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Free – 90% believe radio should be free and easy to listen to.

When drivers were asked to nominate the one entertainment source they would keep in their car, above all others, 69% chose radio, with UK drivers feeling even more strongly at 73%. CD and MP3 players tied with 11%, Bluetooth music at 7% and music streaming was chosen by just 1%.

There were surprisingly few differences across age, gender or car-type, when looking at almost every aspect of in-car radio, including 20 to 29-year-olds where 78% said they would not consider buying a car without a radio – only 4% less than the average.

Across all three countries, 90% believed radio should always be free to use, with 65% of drivers not happy to pay for an app to access the radio in their car.

The survey was commissioned by UK Radioplayer, the not-for-profit partnership between the BBC and commercial radio. The Radioplayer model has spread to Germany, Austria, Norway, Belgium and Ireland and they are working to grow radio across Europe.

The research comes as the latest UK Rajar figures for the final quarter of 2015 revealed that a higher proportion of radio listening is being done at the wheel than ever before – 33 million people listen to the radio in their car every week in the UK alone.

Michael Hill, managing director of Radioplayer, said: 'Now we need to act in partnership across the European radio industry, share this research with the car companies, and work together to build the dashboards of the future.'

What do you listen to in your car? Email motoring@archant.co.uk