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Nearly half of Radio 3 and Radio 4 listeners tune in on digital platforms

Almost a half of BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4 listeners accessed their favourite stations via digital platform in the first three months of 2016.

Figures released at midnight from Rajar confirm that the digital share of national station listening increased by 9% to 52.9% and for the first time digital accounted for practically half (49.9%) of total BBC Radio 3 listening while BBC Radio 4 digital listening increased to 47%. Local stations have less digital listening (29%) than national stations but are growing faster with an annual increase of 16%.

Digital-only stations continue to grow and now account for over 30% of all digital listening.

The leading overall digital-only station is BBC Radio 6 Music, and leading commercial digital-only station remains Absolute 80s - both had record breaking quarters, with BBC 6 Music increasing 8% year on year to 2.2 million listeners and Absolute 80s increasing 19% to 1.7 million listeners before the recent transmission change.

Radio X listeners grew year on year (vs XFM) by 40% to 1.2m with growth coming from digital listening which increased by 97%. The Q1 2016 Rajar data does not include any listening results for the 16 new digital-only stations launched in March 2016 (15 new stations on Sound Digital and 1 new station, Heart Extra, on Digital One).


These figures do not reflect the recent changes to DAB distribution affecting the likes of Planet Rock and Absolute 80s, which are now only available to around 75% of the UK. *Some stations are available via analogue, either as a minority platform or in a small number of areas only. Analogue figures are not counted in the above figures.


  1. That chart seems to suggest that less than 500,000 people listen to BBC Radio 1-4 via digital? No Classic FM on the list? No talkSPORT? There seems to be a mix of digital only and analogue/digital.

    1. Stations with a national FM network aren't eligible to be included in this list, which groups those stations that are either digital-only or predominantly digital. The list is not created by a516digital.

  2. Whilst it’s very welcome that Radio 3 has increased its’ share of the listening I wonder how long the fascination with digital listening will continue amongst their listeners? One of the most important things for classical music listeners is the ‘Concert Effect’ which is quite difficult to replicate on a DAB mono speaker radio, even at 192kbps (which of course is a stereo signal). An FM mono speaker radio has a better sound for listening to classical music – if of course you have a clear uninterrupted signal.
    Listening via DAB on a long car journey can have its benefits in certain parts of the country and avoids the hiss and fade but for home listening my order of preference for Radio 3 listening to achieve the Concert Effect is firstly an FM tuner through a stereo hi-fi, then via satellite through a stereo hi-fi tuner and lastly DAB through a stereo hi-fi tuner. It remains to be seen whether Radio 3’s listeners will decide to stick with mono DAB reception or revert to FM listening over the next year or so.

  3. Probably the best way to listen to BBC Radio 3's 'concert effect' is to receive it through a smart Radio tuner, plugged into a hi-fi system. That way, you can receive all the BBC music services at 320kbps (MP3) or its equivalent data rate quality on AAC! Technically, BBC Radio 3 & Linn Classical Radio have higher quality sound reproduction than what is offered on ordinary compact disc recordings. The only issue being is the reception equipment is got to be intelligent enough to reproduce the full information of sound!

  4. Actually Radio 3 streamed (and almost all BBC radio stations) is at 320kbps AAC if you have the right equipment, but this does require using a Dash stream. Fortunately I can get those on my SqueezeBox, and my word does 320kbps AAC sound good for Radio 3. Way better than FM.

    1. Reciva portal supported smart radios will automatically stream AAC including the Revo radio range, amongst others. Frontier Sillicon supported tuners including the Roberts range currently requires a manual addition for BBC AAC streams. Mr Owen Smith is correct that the BBC streams are AAC coded while Eaglesham based Linn Radio, Linn Classical and Linn Jazz are using 320kbps MP3..

    2. The BBC offers multiple bit rates. In the UK this is 128kbps or 320kbps, so just knowing you're getting AAC isn't enough to know which one. Outside the the UK the BBC still offer two bit rates, but I forget what they are except quite a lot lower.


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