With so many different options to access music, discussion programs, news, and sports among other content, are Canadians still listening to the radio? In modern society, is there still space for traditional radio broadcasting?

In this article, we answer these questions among many others through statistical information on the radio industry in Canada. We explore statistics on the radio industry’s revenue, listener numbers, and Canadians’ views on radio broadcasting. So continue reading to find out what role radio plays in Canada today.

Radio Industry Statistics for Canadians

  • 965 radio stations were operating in Canada in 2022.
  • The Canadian radio industry had an operating revenue of just over $1.5 billion in 2022.
  • The radio industry’s profit was down to $47 million in 2022.
  • In 2021, the radio industry reported a net loss of over $100 million.
  • Employee numbers have been falling since the record high of 2011 when over 14,000 people worked in the radio broadcasting industry in Canada.
  • Almost 70% of Canadians listen to the radio every week.
  • Canadians spend over 16 hours per week listening to the radio.
  • More Canadians (45%) consider radio access more important than access to streaming music (28%).
  • Over a quarter of Canadians consider radio as a reliable source of content.
  • Over 40% of radio listeners feel there are too many adverts on commercial radio.
  • The majority of Canadians believe radio plays an important role in promoting Canadian culture.

Radio Industry in Canada

According to Statistics Canada, 965 radio stations were broadcasting in Canada in 2022. This was one more station than in 2021 but tied with 2020. 716 of the radio stations were commercial stations. FM radio stations account for around 83% of the revenues from commercial stations, the rest comes from AM radio.

Despite the wide range of audio entertainment options available, radio is still a steady source of content for Canadians. Almost 87% of Canadian survey respondents said they had listened to the radio within the last month.

Radio Industry Revenues in Canada

The operating revenue for the Canadian radio industry has been falling for several years. In 2018, the operating revenue was $1.923 billion but has since fallen to $1.527 billion. The highest revenue recorded by the radio industry in Canada was in 2011 when operating revenue was $2 billion.

The biggest decrease in revenues was between 2019 and 2020 when the revenue fell from $1.864 billion to $1.575 billion. The faster decline was likely COVID-19-related but revenues have continued to fall since then.

Radio Industry Expenses And Profits

During the last five years, the radio industry’s expenses have fallen, too. However, they have not fallen at the same rate as operating revenue. As a result, the profits have fallen to a fraction of what they were five years ago.

In 2018, the radio industry’s expenses were $1.659 billion and the profits were $288 million. Over the next five years, the expenses were reduced to $1.497 billion but with an operating revenue of just $1.527 billion, the radio industry’s profit was down to $47.421 million. In 2022, net operating income was only $29.949 million compared to $264.187 million in 2018.

In 2021, Canadian Radio Broadcasters Reported Their Biggest Net Loss

The Canadian radio industry has only reported net loss three times since 2000: in 2010, 2020, and 2021. In 2010, the industry reported a net loss after income taxes of $41.1 million. In 2021, the net loss was $26.9 million. The biggest net loss occurred in 2020 when the industry reported a net loss of $102.4 million. In contrast, five years earlier, the radio broadcasting industry reported a record-high annual net profit of $401.4 million.

Almost a Third of Radio Industry Revenues Come From Five Radio Ownership Groups

Many radio stations in Canada are owned by one of the five main groups. The largest group is BCE with 109 radio stations, followed by Stingray with 71 stations. Rogers owns 57 stations, Corus 39, and Cogeco 13 stations. In total, these five groups own 289 radio stations and in 2018 generated over 65% of the revenues from commercial radio. BCE alone generated 25% of the revenues.

The Number of Radio Industry Employees Has Fallen

The number of people working in the radio industry in Canada has been falling over the last few years. In 2018, 11,664 people worked in the radio industry, and by the following year, the number of employees had fallen to 11,422. Employee numbers have since continued to fall and in 2022, only 10,080 people were working in the Canadian radio industry. Between 2020 and 2021, employment in the radio industry fell by 27.9%. The highest number of employees was recorded in 2011 when 14.022 people worked in radio broadcasting.

The Vast Majority of Commercial Radio Stations Broadcast in English

According to Statistics Canada, 599 commercial radio stations did their broadcasting in English in 2018, while 97 broadcasted in French and 25 stations had a broadcasting language other than English or French. English-language radio stations had the largest share of the audience at 56.4%, followed by French-language stations at 14.5%. Radio stations broadcasting in another language had only a 0.6% share of the radio audience.

Non-Commercial radio

Non-commercial radio stations in Canada fall into one of the following categories: community, campus, Indigenous, and religious. According to data from Statistics Canada, in 2018, there were 119 community radio stations, 48 campus radios, 31 Indigenous, and 28 religious radio stations operating in Canada.

The tuning share of non-commercial radio stations was 2.3% with community radio stations getting the largest share at 1.5%. Campus, indigenous, and religious radio stations each got a 0.3% share of radio listeners.

Radio Audience in Canada

Most Canadians, 68%, listen to commercial radio at least every week and 39% listen to the radio every day. In comparison, 39% of Canadians listen to music through a streaming service every week, 32% listen to CBC Radio/ICI Radio-Canada, 22% listen to podcasts, and 17% to satellite radio every week.

Toronto has the highest average radio audience in Canada, with over 5.87 million daily listeners in 2021. Vancouver has the second highest number of regular listeners with 2.46 million people reporting they listen to radio every day.

Radio is often listened to on the go and the car radio, at 80% is the most commonly used receiver for commercial radio. 38% of Canadians listen to the radio using a traditional radio.

Radio Listeners Have a Median Age of 53

In Canada, the median age of people who listen to the radio is 53. Men make up 51.6% of the audience in all central markets. On average, Canadians aged 18 or over listen to 16.8 hours of radio per week, but there are notable differences between age groups.

Canadians who are over 55 years of age spend the most time listening to the radio with 18.8 weekly hours. The least likely age group to listen to the radio is the 18-24-year-olds, who spend just 10.8 hours per week listening to the radio. Among 25-54 year olds, the weekly average is 16.5 hours.

Commercial Radio Stations Are Considered the Most Important Broadcast Platform

In a survey on Attitudes and opinions towards commercial radio in Canada commissioned by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canadians considered commercial radio stations to be the most important platform for broadcasts. 45% said access to commercial radio was important. Access to music radio and local news content was seen as especially important at 64% and 57%, respectively. Other important aspects of radio included weather reports at 51%, national news at 48%, and international news at 40%.

Far fewer Canadians (28%) considered accessing CBC Radio/ICI Radio-Canada as important to them, while the same number of Canadians considered access to streaming music services important. Only 19% considered podcasts as important.

What Do Canadians Like the Most About Radio?

In the CRTC survey, respondents were asked what they like the most about radio in Canada. 60% of the respondents said they like that radio is available for free. 30% liked the simplicity and convenience of listening to the radio and the same percentage liked the connection it creates to their local community. A variety of music available across the different radio stations was chosen as a key aspect of radio by 27%, while 26% liked to listen to the radio because they felt it was a reliable source of content.

What Would Canadians Change About Radio Broadcasting?

Many Canadians feel that commercial radio has too many commercials. 43% of Canadians who listen to commercial radio would like there to be fewer adverts, while 32% would like more diverse music, 20% more focus on local content, and 18% would like more timely news content. Around 41% of Canadians are satisfied with the programme quality and 39% with the local content included in radio broadcasts.

Promoting Canadian Content is Important to Most Canadian Listeners

62% of Canadians feel that it is important to ensure a strong presence of Canadian culture on Canadian radio stations. This sentiment is even stronger among French speakers. 72% of Francophones feel that radio plays an important role in nurturing French-language culture.

In addition, 60% of Canadians believe that it is important to promote Canadian music and artists through rules on content, while 51% feel that radio stations should do more to promote new Canadian artists. However, 58% of radio listeners admit that when listening to music, they do not pay a lot of attention to where the artist is from.

Conclusion

Radio is still an important content provider in Canada and around 70% of Canadians tune in to one of the over 900 radio stations every week. Radio is an especially popular and convenient source of content when travelling.

Canada’s radio industry is dominated by five large ownership groups which generate around 65% of the industry’s revenue. They also get a large share of the radio listeners. While the consumption of other forms of talk, music, news, and sports content continues to rise, radio is still seen as an important and reliable platform by most Canadians. 

Frequently Asked Questions

On average, Canadians spend almost 17 hours per week listening to the radio. Listening to a radio station is especially popular when travelling, in particular when driving. Around 70% of Canadians listen to the radio at least once a week.

The most popular radio station in Canada depends on the area. When looking at the major markets of Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Montreal, they each have a different radio station claiming the top spot.

In Toronto, the radio station that gets the biggest share of the audience aged 12 or over is CBC Radio One with 15.9%. In Vancouver, the top spot is held by CKNW with a 13.1% share of the audience, while in Edmonton CISN, a country station is the most popular with 9% tuning share. In Calgary, CBC Radio One is the most popular station with a share of 13.1%

In Montreal, the most popular radio station among Francophones is CHMP 98.5 FM . The talk radio station gets a 22.8% share of the listeners. Among Anglophones, the most popular station is CJAD 800 with 28.7% of the audience.

Yes, younger Canadians are still listening to the radio. However, they do not spend as much time listening to the radio as older Canadians. While Canadians over 18 years of age listen to around 16.8 hours of radio per week, among 18-24 the average weekly hours is considerably lower at 10.8 hours. In contrast, the over 55s spend 18.8 hours per week listening to the radio.

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