U.K. radio sales down 18%


The number of radios sold in the U.K fell by 18.3% in a year as listeners moved to listen via apps and online. A total of 6.7 million radios were sold, the lowest figure recorded by communications regulator Ofcom there in its third ‘Digital Progress Report’. That number was down from a peak of 10.4 million in 2008.

Here’s an interesting twist—digital radio may be making a bit of a foothold there: Sales of analog radios fell by 1.5 million in the 12 months to the end of June, while DAB radio sales remained steady despite declining prices. Overall, 29.5% of all radio is now listened to digitally, compared to 25.8% a year ago and just 19.6% in 2009, reported the U.K. Telegraph.

The U.K. Government has said it will not consider a ‘digital switchover’ for radio until listening is at least above 50% and coverage is equal to FM. Almost 5% of all radio listening is now online or via apps in the U.K.

Digital-only radio listening is dominated by BBC stations, and Radio 4 Extra and 6 Music, with 1.6million and 1.4million users respectively. Users of DAB, however, are most likely to live in the affluent south-east, and lower socio-economic groups are much less likely to listen to DAB.

A third of listeners who do not currently own a DAB set said they plan to purchase one in the next year, however, and over a quarter of all new cars are now fitted with DAB as standard, despite rising average in-car radio prices.

Ofcom said the figures in the report indicated that of the at least 101 million radios in the UK, barely 15 million are DAB sets. Approximately 1.9 million radios have been sold each year for the past three years, down from a peak of 2.1 million in 2009 and 2008. More than nine out of ten homes, however, had access to digital radio via the internet, DAB radio sets or digital television. One in three radios sold in the last year contained a DAB tuner.

See the U.K. Telegraph story here

RBR-TVBR observation: Indeed, digital radio is making a footprint in the U.K. There’s no doubt analog radio sales are on the decline for smartphone and tablet listening both here and the U.K. Remember, though–a lot of that listening is streaming terrestrial radio. Nonetheless,  if digital radio sales are holding steady across the pond, perhaps the trend can move here as well with HD Radio. HD Radio sales figures are hard to find, but we know the penetration isn’t anywhere near one in three radios sold. However, with the automakers continuing to offer HD Radio in more vehicles, the trend could change.