EBU Digital Radio progress report

EBUThe Digital Radio 2016 report is the first of a yearly report that the Media Intelligence Service of the EBU plans to publish to support the EBU’s Digital Radio Initiative.
Built upon the experience of the Digital Radio Toolkit, which examined the key success factors for radio digitization, the Digital Radio report highlights the main achievements of the previous year for digital radio, pointing out both its strengths and the areas that require action. As a whole, it offers a progress report of the roll-out of digital terrestrial radio in European markets and, when relevant, other digital platforms.

By doing this, it helps EBU Members and other stakeholders to plan their digital radio strategies and supports their advocacy initiatives. Ultimately, it supports their efforts to bring terrestrial digital radio to their territories, providing them with the data, the latest developments, a selection of best practices and a market analysis.

Methodology
This project relies on a systematic collection from different sources, including:

  • Official statistics from broadcasters, governments, regulatory authorities and industry trade bodies, both national and international (e.g. WorldDAB, DRM Consortium).
  • Information and analysis from the trade press and experts.
  • Personal communications from industry stakeholders such as EBU Members, regulatory authorities, network operators, manufacturers and industry trade bodies. For the benefit of readers, sources have not been included systematically but are available for any EBU Member on request. All the insights provided have been analysed according to the best data and information available at the moment the report was written (January 2016). What appears in the report is a summary of key developments.

The UK is a Digital Radio ‘Leader’
Thirty million people listen to digital radio each week (Q4 2015), which is 56% of the population; only senior citizens and lower socio-economic groups are below this average. Listening to analogue radio fell by six points in one year and stood at just 50% by the third quarter of the year. Digital was at 41.7%, mostly thanks to DAB (28%) that is listened to four times as much as radio over the internet (including apps). The trend is towards a takeover of analogue by digital radio. At this pace, this could already happen by 2016, as they have started to see in London and with in-home listening.
This increasing consumption is based on the new stations offered by BBC and commercial radio, including brand extensions and pop-up services. This offer will increase from 29 February 2016 when the second national commercial multiplex will start transmissions, including speech, music, children, Asian and religious services, three of them in DAB+.
The two leading digital stations, BBC Radio 4 Extra and BBC Radio 6 Music, attract more than two million listeners weekly. On the whole, national commercial radio has twice the number of listeners in digital than in analogue, where only three services are available.

A Local DAB Expansion Plan co-funded by the BBC, commercial radios and the government was deployed in 2015. This is where digital radio listening figures are lower although the growing availability of the services, including new digital-only stations, and the general growth of DAB should help to improve them dramatically.

Last July, a trial for 60 small-scale stations also started, including DAB+ since January 2016. 80% of new cars were fitted with digital radio as standard in Q4 2015 (+7% as an option), including 40% of commercial vehicles. By the end of 2015, one in three people were using at least one vehicle with a digital radio most weeks. At this point, not having digital radio is a commercial disadvantage for car brands.

Finally, the digital radio tick mark, which indicates “future ready” devices, has introduced certainty in a declining radio-set market (-2.5 million in five years), for which digital tuners still make up less than 50%. This trend could be partially related to the increased use of mobile phones for radio listening beyond 25% of the population, including more than 40% for the 15-24s. Together with the sales, the other concern for 2016 is how cuts in BBC funding will affect its investment in DAB although penetration and listening will continue to grow steadily.

To read the full report see: Market Report Digital Radio 2016 (PDF)

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