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UK digital radio industry celebrates successful year

The digital radio industry is celebrating a year-on-year increase in share following the release of new audience research figures for the end of 2016.

According to the latest audience figures from RAJAR, digital listening has increased year-on-year to a 45.2% share, up from 41.7% for the last three months of 2015, boosted by record levels of DAB digital listening. While up year-on-year, in the last three months, the figure has flatlined.

The most popular digital-only station is BBC Radio 6 Music which recorded a weekly reach of 2.33 million listeners, followed by BBC Radio 4 Extra with a weekly reach of 2.18million listeners.

After a turbulent year for Absolute 80s - it has seen its figures fluctuate wildly during 2016 following DAB frequency changes - it has re-established its position as the most popular commercial digital-only station with 1.53 million listeners. It lost some of its DAB coverage area in 2016, but the latest audience research figures show that online / app listening, which enables listeners to overcome DAB coverage limitations, now accounts for a total 16% of all digital listening in the UK, with a 14% increase in online hours.

Kisstory took the second spot among digital commercial stations with a weekly reach of 1.4m listeners.

With 15.2 hours of listening per digital listener compared to 14.3 hours per analogue listener, the transition to digital is helping the radio sector sustain high levels of overall listening.

Q4 2016 saw the highest-ever recorded proportion of in-car radio listening, accounting for 23.3% of all radio listening, growth supported by the increase of in-car digital radio with 87% of new cars now fitted with DAB as standard (Q4 2016 CAP/SMMT). In this quarter, in-car digital listening hours grew by 40% year-on- year to 62.3 million hours from 44.5 million hours in Q4 2015.

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said:
“It is very encouraging to see record levels of DAB listening growth in-car and in the home with DAB now representing nearly three quarters of all digital listening. Radio listening online and via apps on smartphones and digital devices such as Sonos and Amazon Echo also continues to grow and represents an important digital platform for the future alongside DAB. With digital listening broadly flat quarter on quarter in this book, as it often the case from Q3 to Q4, we would expect to see digital listening growth step up in the Q1 2017 listening data when the DAB radios and digital devices sold at Christmas come into use.”