Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Fast connection helps boost online radio usage in HK

Hong Kong ranks among the world's highest audiences for Internet radio, according to a recent survey.

The study by Internet audience measurement firm Nielsen//NetRatings found about 38 per cent of Hong Kong adults said they listened to online radio programmes.

Hong Kong ranked second - following Brazil at 40 per cent - among the 12 countries surveyed, which included Australia, Brazil and nine European countries.

Peter Steyn, Nielsen//NetRatings Hong Kong's director, said more than 70 per cent of local households were connected to the Internet, so there was little surprise Hong Kong's Internet radio usage should be high.

"As many Hong Kong people are interested in life beyond the boundaries of Hong Kong, or have lived away from Hong Kong in places such as Australia, Canada, Britain and the US, Internet radio allows them to continue the enjoyment of local radio stations in these countries," he said

Mr Steyn said it was also due to the high Internet connection speed within the SAR.

"In Hong Kong, an astonishing 58 per cent of those who responded and have Internet access use either a cable modem or high-speed telephone connection to access the Internet. Not surprisingly, their rates for using Internet radio and looking at audio-visual content were among the highest worldwide," he said.

A total of 34 per cent said they had viewed multimedia content, following Britain at 41 per cent, Australia at 40 per cent and Brazil's 35 per cent.

About 84 per cent of local interviewees said they used e-mail. That was comparatively low and ranked seventh in the 12 places. A mere 26 per cent said they had used instant messaging.

"As all local telephone calls in Hong Kong are free, people are more likely to make a telephone call than to do instant messaging," Mr Steyn said.

"In large countries such as the US, Britain, Brazil and Australia, instant messaging provides a cheap option to have one-on-one communication with family and friends from across their country, which thus avoids long-distance calls."

According to International Data Corp (IDC), Hong Kong had an Internet penetration of 38 per cent this year. About 24 per cent of households had broadband Internet access.

About 93 per cent of local Internet users accessed the Internet for e-mail and 71 per cent accessed the Net to download and/or listen to music.

"Hong Kong users have demonstrated a high demand for online gaming, and surfing the Internet for recreation, travel, information about news and current affairs, sport, hobbies and music," IDC's market analyst Renee Gamble said.

"The strong take-up of broadband services demonstrates that Hong Kong users are willing to pay a bit more for better quality high-speed Internet access in order to make their online experience more fulfilling. They want always-on connectivity and unlimited access. And they are demanding higher speed bandwidth."

Mr Steyn added: "As more and more Hong Kong Internet users get access to broadband, and content providers take advantage of this increased bandwidth, streaming media applications will continue to shape our online experiences. These include TV or video or music-on-demand, live webcasts, Internet phones, and Internet radios."

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