Australian Radio stations rely on ratings to determine how many people are listening, when and for how long. These numbers are used to brag among industry peers, but most importantly set advertising rates which pays for all the announcers and sports rights.

Since the dawn of time, these ratings have been done pretty much the same way.

People walk the streets of suburbs, knock on the doors of houses and invite households to be part of the radio ratings panel.

If they agree, they are given a booklet, in which they need to mark off in 15 minute increments everything they listen to and how. Which radio station, was it on the internet, on the radio, digital or analogue etc.

It works, and do not “at me” that it doesn’t, I’ve been in the industry long enough to know how and why it works so well.

But there’s a change coming. Slowly, the Radio Industry is moving to a new technology.

A small number of panel members will wear the “Gfk MediaWatch” a normal looking watch that listens to what you’re listening to.

It has a heart and motion sensor to confirm it’s being worn, and it can then detect what you’re listening to and report it.

Kicking off in Sydney, it will then expand to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth over the year ahead as new watches arrive in the country.

There are also plans afoot to include online streaming data through station server logs as part of the future upgrades.

Long-term and outgoing CEO of industry body Commercial Radio Australia says “We’re extremely excited to be moving ahead with GfK and the multimillion-dollar transformation of the radio ratings system,”

“Digital listening is growing at pace and advertiser interest is high. Through these changes, the industry will have for the first time a single source for live streaming data that is uniform and consistent across all the major commercial radio networks.

“This will provide clarity on the size and profile of radio’s growing streaming audiences and help the networks and advertisers realise the significant opportunities in this area.”

2,000 people will wear the watches once rolled out, a portion of the 60,000 consumers who annually take part in paper diaries annually.