Digital radio listening dropping in U.K.


Hopes for digital radio switchover in the next five years in the U.K. suffered a blow as the growth in popularity of digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio went into reverse. DAB radio (the Eureka-147 system), the likely broadcast replacement for analog AM and FM, saw its share of listening drop, to 15.3% from 15.8% in Q2. On the flip side, the popularity of analog AM and FM continued to grow there, with a 67.6% share, up from 67% in the previous quarter and 66.1% a year ago.

Digital listening accounted for 24.8% of all radio listening in the three months to 9/19, marginally up on the 24.6% share of listening in the previous three months, according to official Rajar figures published there.

Digital, which also includes digital TV and online, must account for at least 50% of all radio listening before the government will seriously begin to consider switching all the national and big regional and local radio stations from analog to digital-only, reported The U.K. Guardian.

A tentative switchover target of 2015 has been penciled in, but at the current rate of growth – digital accounted for about 16% of all listening three years ago – the 50% target will not be hit until at least 2020, with switchover some time after that.

Digital Radio UK, the body responsible for overseeing digital radio switchover, said digital listening “has not shown significant growth on a quarter-on-quarter basis as there have not been major developments in this quarter”.

RBR-TVBR observation: Digital radio—both in the UK and here in the states—is really competing against with online offerings via mobile devices (the satellite numbers are what they are). Those that can afford the monthly wireless broadband bill are finding their choices are much broader online and the sound quality is acceptable. Those that can’t afford the monthly broadband bill are just sticking with what their good ole analog radio offers up—at least looking at these U.K. numbers. Digital radio choices have to be compelling enough for people to go out and buy the receivers. Because inherently, there always will be less of them on the dial than the internet. Word of mouth adds listeners faster than anything.