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Radio across Europe joining forces to fight for rightful place in the car

21 February 2024
Portrait image of Tomas Granryd, Digital Partnerships, Swedish Radio

In this guest blog, Tomas Granryd, Head of Digital Partnerships at Sveriges Radio (SR), writes about one of the major strategic focuses for the EBU in 2024: How radio can preserve its prominent position in cars. He sets out why radio deserves to be prioritised and what the EBU is doing, along with its Members and the wider industry, to achieve this. 

Radio is by a good margin the most loved and used medium in the car. In 2021, for two-thirds of European car users, radio was the most used audio source in vehicles.* If you ask the audience, the thing that attracts the most is the simplicity – a push of a button and you’re up and running – it’s live, it’s happening here and now. Plus, you don’t have to make a bunch of choices, professional radio makers have done the mixing for you – a flow that is hopefully relevant and good for this particular moment.

In addition, broadcast is stable and reliable. When everything else goes down, the radio is often left as the last medium that can deliver vital information in a crisis situation.
But despite its popularity with the public, it can be increasingly difficult to find the radio in modern cars. Too often the radio is hidden behind a confusing maze of buttons and menus. Or radio is listed along with connectivity standards such as USB and Bluetooth.

We need to work together across the industry to ensure that audiences can easily find the radio they love.

As broadcasters, we are proud of the large audience we reach in the car via broadcast radio. But we’re just as proud of our own digital applications, which can complement the linear broadcast experience with additional breadth and depth. At SR, we have our “Sveriges Radio Play” application – all our linear radio channels, news, music and podcasts in one place. We are seeing a slow movement of the public to listen to audio via apps in the car and we want our audience to continue being able to easily find what they are looking for, as easily as they do for the traditional radio experience.

Although broadcasters can offer a unique world of beloved content through their applications, often other streaming services are given bigger prominence on dashboards. The most trusted sources of content are becoming harder to find - at a time when trust really matters.

Introducing The Playbook

Voice control in the car will become increasingly important. Voice will likely become an established way of interacting with the car – precisely because it is avoids driver distraction, enabling you to keep your eyes on the road. Today, there is little regulation or consensus regarding how voice control should interact with services in the car. As opposed to a search in a web browser, voice search can typically only return a single result. What happens when you search for a particular podcast name by voice? If I ask to listen to the SR P3 channel on my way to work, does it start live streaming of our morning show or does it start playing a song called “P3” from Spotify?. Without action from broadcasters, we may make it harder for our audiences to continue to connect with our content.

In short, as a radio industry, we need to act together.

Public service broadcasters from across the EBU membership have agreed to create a common, clear map of who are the key players (including broadcasters) and what is required to ensure that audiences can continue to easily find and listen to the content they love.

The project is called The Playbook and is all about collaboration – all parts of the value chain: the car industry, operating system providers, app stores and the radio industry must work together.

I have been given the exciting and important task of co-ordinating this project on behalf of the EBU. The mission is to unite the radio industry and with one voice  create the best radio experience for our audiences in the connected car.

Radio, whether live or on-demand, music or news, must continue to be prominent and accessible for future audiences in cars.


*Source: World DAB - Edison Research


Relevant links and documents

Written by

Tomas Granryd

Head of Digital Partnerships