Swindon and West Wiltshire is the DAB hotspot of the UK, according to the latest set of research on the uptake and availability of digital radio in the UK.
Since 2010, Ofcom has been tracking the progress of digital radio, from availability to consumer attitudes. In its seventh report, it found that 70% of households in Swindon and West Wiltshire owned a DAB radio. Caredigion in Wales and Northern Ireland were bottom of the list, but still with 39% of households having access to DAB. Overall, more than half (57%) have a DAB radio set in the home. The number of digital radios sold in the year to Q3 2016 has remained broadly similar to last year. Of the total number of radio sets sold, 1.6 million (34.8%) were capable of receiving DAB signals. 85% of newly-registered cars were fitted with DAB as standard. This represents a year-on-year increase of 12 percentage points.
Across all digital platforms, practically every household had access to a form of digital radio, largely thanks to near universal coverage on terrestrial and satellite TV platforms.
Local DAB services are estimated to reach around 90% of homes and around 76% of major roads. National BBC DAB services are now available to 97.3% of UK households and 87.3% of major roads. National commercial DAB services are available to 91.5% of UK homes via the Digital One network, and 76.5% of UK homes via the new Sound Digital Limited network which was launched in March this year.
The number of local DAB digital radio services available varies across the UK: In total there are 339 radio stations broadcasting on DAB. Of these, 32 are UK-wide commercial services and 11 are BBC UK-wide stations.
Digital share of listening exceeded 50% in six local areas. Sussex had the highest share of radio listening via a digital platform, at 53.4%, followed by Berkshire and north Hampshire (53.2%), Swindon and west Wiltshire (51.4%), London (51.3%), Gloucestershire (50.2%) and Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire (50.1%). DAB is the most popular platform for digital listening. In Q3 2016 it accounted for 70.3% of digital listening, while 11.9% was through a television and 17.8% was via the internet. BBC stations accounted for over half of all listening via a digital platform (52.8%); simulcasts of analogue BBC radio services made up the largest proportion of this. Seven digital-only stations had an average weekly reach of more than a million listeners in the 12 months to Q3 2016. BBC 6 Music was the most popular digital-only service, with an average of 2.2 million listeners per week.
According to Ofcom, radio listeners in the affluent AB socio-economic group were the most likely to listen via digital radio. Nearly seven in ten (69.9%) in this group listened to digital radio on a weekly basis. By age group, digital radio listening on a weekly basis was highest for 35-44s (66.3%).
Of the 43% of listeners that don't have DAB in their home, 13% said they were likely to buy one in the next year. Three in ten (30%) said that they didn’t know if they would buy a DAB set in the next year, and nearly six in ten (58%) said that they were unlikely to purchase one in the next year.