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Digital Radio listening figures: another step towards 50% trigger point

Digital radio listening has grown another step closer to a trigger point crucial for a possible future digital radio switchover.

The latest RAJAR radio listening figures, for the 3rd quarter of 2016, show that digital listening has grown to 45.5%, up from 41.9% a year ago. Once that figure hits 50%, the Government will review the options surrounding a switch to digital radio.

DAB digital radio is the most-used means of listening to radio via a digital platform, and its audiences have increased thanks to a wave of new stations launching in the past year, plus improved coverage.

Listening on DAB continues to grow and now accounts for 71% of all digital listening, with DAB ownership growing to 57% of all households - or 31 million people - a year on year growth of 7%.

Digital listening via online/apps now accounts for 18% of digital listening while digital television accounts for 11%.

During the third quarter of 2016, BBC Radio 6 Music reached new highs, with an audience of 2,342,000, up 7% year-on-year, securing the top slot among digital-only stations. Kisstory became the number 1 commercial digital radio station.

New entrant Heart extra reached 664,000 listeners in the station’s first RAJAR reading. Bauer’s Magic Network saw strong quarterly growth supported by new digital-only sister stations, with Mellow Magic reaching 424,000 listeners, compared to 380,000 last quarter, and Magic Chilled reaching 240,000 listeners, compared to 233,000 last quarter.

Significantly, digital listening now accounts for over 50% of all listening among 15-24 year olds and 35-44 year olds for the first time, with DAB being the leading platform.

In-car digital listening hours grew by 39% year on year to 60 million hours from 43 million hours in Q3 2015, and now accounts for 25.4% of all listening (from 19.3% in Q3 2015), accelerated by the growth in the percentage of new cars now fitted with digital radio as standard to 86% in Q3 2016 [Source: CAP/SMMT].

Responding to the latest audience figures, Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said:
“Digital radio has created an even playing field for national stations and it’s great to see the record-breaking performances for the leading digital-only station BBC 6 Music and the new number one digital-only commercial station, Kisstory.The launch of 18 national commercial stations earlier this year on DAB has significantly expanded consumer choice and has helped boost digital listening to national commercial radio stations by 25% with almost three quarters (73%) of listening now being on a digital platform.”