‘Digital tipping point for radio surpassed’

More than half the UK population now listens to radio via digital channels, according to the latest official radio listening figures, giving fresh impetus for Government plans to press ahead with the delayed switchover from analogue to digital signal. 

D Love
Digital Radio UK’s brand ambassador: D Love, who was used in a marketing campaign to encourage people to listen to digital radio earlier this year.

The latest RAJAR figures released today (1 August) show 52.5 per cent of UK adults now tune in to the radio via digital channels each week, generating a total of 378 million listening hours, and accounting for 36.8 per cent all radio listening.

Initial plans for a digital radio switchover were delayed in November last year due to poor audience pick-up. Ofcom said at the time the 50 per cent threshold, which the Government had set as a trigger for a switchover, was not likely to be reached by November 2014.

Subsequently, the organisation charged with overseeing the digital radio switchover, Digital Radio UK, launched a major marketing campaign to encourage the public to “spread the love” for digital radio in a bid to raise digital listening hours.

RAJAR’s figures, compiled by Ipsos MORI in the three months to June 30, show a total of 28 million people now listen to radio via digital platforms – which include TV sets, compatible radios, mobiles and online platforms – each week, accounting for 57.8 per cent of radio listeners.

DAB radios remain the most popular device for digital listeners, accounting for 18 per cent of this audience.

Radio listening hours via online devices numbered 62 million during the quarter, compared with the 55 million hours generated by digital TV channels.

The statistics also show total radio listening hours in the quarter (1.03 billion) were largely flat, both year on year and quarter on quarter, with an average of 90.8 per cent of the UK listening to a radio each week.

The figures come the day after the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published a paper outlining a legislative framework for “digital inclusion” in preparation for the digital switchover. 

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, says: “We have reached a tipping point in the radio industry’s unstoppable momentum to digital. It’s clear that the future for radio in the UK is digital and we look forward to the certainty that the Government in-principle decision on a radio switchover will provide at the end of this year.”

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