RAJAR Q1 2018: 50% of radio listening is now digital

Digital listening has reached a new record share of 50.9% – a landmark achievement for the industry which hopes will trigger action from the Government about the future of DAB.

This compares to 47.2% in Q1 2017 and to 24.0% in Q1 2010 when the Government’s Digital Radio Action Plan, which outlined a programme of work to progress digital radio take up, was launched.

With the 50% digital listening threshold now met, it is anticipated that the Government will undertake a review to assess digital radio progress and determine next steps in due course.

Speaking at the Tuning In commercial radio conference yesterday, Margot James, Minister of State for Digital and the Creative Industries, said “The 50% share will be an important milestone for radio” and confirmed that Government will “work closely with all partners – the BBC, commercial radio, Arqiva, car manufacturers and listeners – and subject to this will make some further announcements.”

Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio UK, told RadioToday: “This is a landmark moment for the radio industry and for listeners alike. Digital platforms now account for the majority of all radio listening for the first time. The digital transition is good news for radio and is helping our industry compete more effectively in a digital age. We look forward to continuing to work with broadcasters, the supply chain and Government on delivering radio’s digital future and the upcoming digital radio review.”

Digital listening share is comprised of listening across all digital platforms – DAB in homes and in cars, Apps and online (which includes the growing number of smart and voice-controlled speakers) and DTV – and this is the first time that listening to digital has been greater than analogue platforms – FM and AM.

Overall, digital listening hours grew by 7.8% compared to Q1 2017. The greatest amount of digital listening takes place on a DAB radio which now accounts for 36.8% of all listening and 72.2% of digital listening, with hourly growth of 8.9% year on year. Online and Apps now accounts for 9.3% of all listening and 18.3% of digital listening, with the greatest percentage hourly growth of 17%. Listening via digital TV meanwhile accounts 4.8% of all listening and 9.4% of digital listening.

63.7% of adults now have access to DAB digital radio at home, plus millions more are listening via the expanding range of smart and voice-controlled speakers. Additionally digital radio is in over 11 million cars on the road, equating to 33% of all cars in the UK, and 90% of all new cars registered have digital radio fitted as standard.

This growth in availability has been matched by an expansion of national and local DAB coverage which is now available in over 90% of the UK due to the launch of an additional 435 digital transmitters, as part of a programme of work supported by Government and broadcasters.

Around the stations, BBC 6 Music and Kisstory, and Heart 80s, all achieved record-breaking audiences this quarter. Long-standing MW stations such as BBC Radio 5 live, Absolute Radio and talkSPORT now have the majority of their listening via digital platforms, as do FM speech-based stations BBC Radio 4 and LBC.

Here are your quotes

Margot James, Minister of State for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “By fully embracing new technology and innovation, the radio industry has increased the ways audiences can listen to this popular and much-loved medium. The majority of radio listening is now on a digital platform and we are completely committed to supporting radio so it continues to thrive in the future.”

Bob Shennan, BBC Director of Radio, said: “We are extremely proud of our digital-only stations like 6 Music and 4 Extra which continue to go from strength to strength and have introduced millions of listeners to new ways of listening digitafavoriteeir favourite BBC stations. Digital radio has brought great success to the radio industry, and our priority now must be to work together to harness the full potential of existing and new digital technologies to ensure radio remains a relevant and vibrant force in listeners’ lives.”

Ashley Tabor OBE, Founder & Executive President, Global, said: “We are delighted that digital listening continues to grow right across the UK. We’ve invested more than ever in digital transmission, growing digital listening with new digital only stations like Heart 80s, Heart Extra and Smooth Extra, as well as expanding the UK’s biggest and most loved commercial radio brands like Heart, Capital, LBC and Radio X, and developing innovative new mobile products like Global Player which drive digital listening and enhance our content even further. Across the board, we have made a significant investment in the digital growth of our brands, and it’s great to see that reflected in today’s results including highest-ever reach for Radio X, Capital XTRA and Heart 80s.”

Dee Ford, MD, Bauer Radio said: “It’s a good news day! Our digital listening share which at 60.7% leads the whole UK radio industry is the result of our skilled programmers and on-air talent understanding what audiences really want from our audio brands. We’re always working with consumer insight to develop new radio products and digital services to build on the evident love for Magic, Absolute Radio and KISS.

“Our new national digital brand, Hits Radio, will launch in June and will broadcast across the nation from Manchester. Hits Radio will have a personality and playlist like no other radio service and will offer UK listeners yet another reason to tune into digital radio. We’re proud to play such a strong role in enriching the listening experience for UK consumers and growing the digital listening habit.”

Steve Holebrook, Managing Director, Terrestrial Broadcast, Arqiva: “Greater station choice and coverage are some of the key drivers that have propelled digital listening to now account for the majority of listening. We are proud of the role we have played extending the national and local networks over the last 3 years to allow millions more people to receive DAB and enjoy the enhanced range of new stations that are available via digital.”

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  1. Martin 1876 says

    “Ashley Tabor OBE, Founder & Executive President, Global, said: “We are delighted that digital listening continues to grow right across the UK. We’ve invested more than ever in digital transmission, growing digital listening with new digital only stations like Heart 80s, Heart Extra and Smooth Extra, ”
    Does this bloke know that Heart Extra and Smooth Extra are just relays on D1 national DAB multiplex of Heart and Smooth? Heart Extra and smooth Extra aren’t REALLY new
    Global are killing radio NOT improving it.

  2. Willie Bone says

    Congratulation to the digital radio industry of meeting that milestone! It been a long crawl for DAB which is not yet a mainstream platform for radio listening after 20 years of existence! DAB supporters called their critics ‘geeks’ who grumbled about audio quality and signal dropout! Switchover is unlikely in the short term, indicating analogue loving geeks and refuseniks have won the war for the time being!

    1. Radio Geordie says

      And Mr. Anal (of Digital UK) is stroking his white cat and laughing his tits off at the fact they you’ve fell into his cunning trap Mr Bone.

      He always tries to con people into thinking that all ‘Digital’ listening is done through DAB when the truth is that DAB only accounts for around half the digital figure.

  3. Mr Boltar says

    FM tends to still work when DAB has given up the ghost in my experience. I’d sooner listen to a bit of hiss than bubbling mud , or in the case of DAB+ sudden silence.

    Also there’s no reason to close FM – unlike the analogue TV band its too narrow and low frequency for modern digital services so the government couldn’t sell it for much, and as soon as legal stations moved out the pirates would move in with avengance, especially in the big cities.

  4. Tony says

    That did not help me recently at Freshwater on the I o W where there was no DAB signal for the radio that I had brought with me.

    Not exactly a million miles from Rowridge either!

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