Digital radio to grow 8.1% this year


iTunes RadioInternet-delivered radio is growing quickly as a medium with listeners tuning into digital stations on a wide range of devices, from desktops to in-car systems and mobile devices. A new report from eMarketer, “Digital Radio: Usage Grows, but Lack of Scale Remains a Challenge” says there will be a monthly average of 159.8 million digital radio listeners in the US this year, up 8.1% from 2013.

From the report:

“Digital radio listeners are now at mass-market proportions, representing just more than half of the population and nearly two-thirds of internet users.

US digital music listening hours will also increase, according to an AccuStream Research forecast. The company predicted average monthly hours would reach 6.70 billion in 2016, up from 4.22 billion in 2014.

As the US digital radio landscape matures, several trends are taking hold, including:

  • Strong demand for two dominant listening modes: personal stations that serve songs based on users’ preferences, existing digital music collections and prior listening activity, and digital extensions of over-the-air stations
  • A shift toward nondesktop devices, such as smartphones, tablets, in-car systems and other consumer electronics embedded with digital radio apps
  • A mix of monetization models that ranges from free access on an ad-supported basis to premium tiers that cost up to $10 per month for ad-free, unlimited listening

Like any segment in the midst of a steep growth curve, digital radio offers abundant opportunities for marketers. Many companies that are marketing through digital radio use 15-second audio spots, some tailored to specific services. Advertisers are also creating branded playlists and sponsoring launch events, contests and festivals. Some are creating ads that keep the listener within the streaming app, while others opt to send users to a browser page with product information or purchasing options. Yet despite a generally positive outlook for digital radio, scale and pricing consistency challenges—also typical of a rapidly growing market—remain.”