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Digital Radio listening hits new high

Three months of rapid expansion for the digital radio industry helped propel digital radio listening to a new high of 45.3%, according to the latest radio listening figures from Rajar.

The annual growth to 45.3% from 39.9% in Q2 2015 of 5.4 percentage points represents the highest-ever percentage point growth in digital listening since records began.

In addition to a new multiplex of stations launching across most of the UK, many local DAB services have been filling up with new local and niche stations, marking a major turning point for digital radio.

There was growth across all digital platforms, with DAB growing its share of listening to 32.2% to now account for over 71% of total digital listening. Online listening grew its share of listening to 8% and now accounts for 18% of digital listening, while DTV grew to 5.1% and now accounts for 11% of digital listening.

In-car digital listening hours grew by 49% year on year to 58m hours from 39m hours in Q2 2015, and now accounts for 24.5% of all listening (from 16.9% in Q2 2015), accelerated by the growth in the percentage of new cars now fitted with digital radio as standard to over 85% in Q2 2016 [Source: CAP/SMMT] and the increased popularity of listening via a smartphone with over 1 million people now listening to digital radio via their smartphone in their car.

Overall digital reach increased by 2.3 million listeners year on year, boosted by encouraging first figures from stations on Sound Digital, the second commercial DAB network launched in March 2016 with 18 national stations.

Following the transformation of the coverage of local DAB stations to reach 91% of the population by the end of Q3 2016 (from 75%), digital listening to local stations this quarter exceeded 30% for the first time, growing to 31.4% (from 26.8% in Q2 2015), a growth of 17% year on year. Digital share of national station listening also continues to grow, increasing to 53.5% (from 47.9% in Q2 2015).

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: 
“Digital listening is now over 45% and heading for 50% with nearly 32 million people listening on a digital platform every week. The record breaking growth of 5.4 percentage points in digital listening has been prompted by the expansion of consumer choice we have seen this quarter with the successful launch of 16 new digital stations on the second commercial national DAB network - Sound Digital. Other key factors in digital growth are the nearly 50% increase in digital listening in cars and the expansion of local DAB coverage which has helped increase digital listening to local stations.”