Digital radio chiefs hail “milestone” quarter

Digital radio chiefs have hailed the latest listenership numbers a “milestone” after it was revealed almost half of radio listeners tuned in on a digital device in the fourth quarter, according to the latest Rajar data.

Marketing Week Engage presenter Chris Evans hosts breakfast show on UK's biggest digital station Radio 2
Marketing Week Engage presenter Chris Evans hosts breakfast show on UK’s biggest digital station Radio 2

More than 23 million people listened to radio on DAB sets, the internet or digital television in the three months to 31 December, up 2.2 million year on year. Of all radio listeners, 49.4% tune in via a digital platform.

DAB remains the biggest platform, accounting for 28.2% of all radio listening and up from 24.4% a year earlier. Digital TV is second on 14.2% followed by the internet on 8.8%, up from 13.6% and 8.8% respectively a year earlier.

People are also tuning in for longer; 300 million hours were clocked for digital devices in the quarter up from 262 million hours a year earlier.

Despite the gains, digital still trails analogue by a considerable margin. Almost 70% of all radio listening is still to FM and AM stations with digital accounting for 29.1%, still short of the 50% tipping point that could trigger the government to set a switch over date.

Ford Ennals, chief executive of switchover body Digital Radio UK, which coordinates commercial and BBC radio efforts and is working with car manufacturers to try and get digital sets installed as standard, says: “This is a milestone moment for digital radio and demonstrates that the direction of travel for radio in the UK is digital.

“Almost 50% of all listeners now listen to digital radio every week and 40% of people live in a home with a DAB digital radio.”

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