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Digital Radio listening just 0.1% away from Government Trigger

Digital listening has reached a new record high, and is now 0.1% away from triggering further Government action on a potential digital radio switchover.

49.9% of all radio listening is now done digitally, up 10% year-on-year. The growth was driven by a surge in digital listening for commercial radio stations, which for the first time exceed 50% at 51.6%, up from 45% year-on-year.

The latest data comes from the quarterly RAJAR audience research data covering the last three months of 2017.

Broken down among age groups, digital radio is ahead, except for the over 65s. Factoring in 10-64 year olds only, digital listening is now at 52.8%

A trigger will go off once digital listening hits 50%, when the Government will officially move closer to a potential digital radio switchover with a policy review. Options will include recommending that additional transmitters are brought into service to increase local DAB coverage.

Digital listening grew across all platforms, with the fastest growth this quarter being to online/apps which increased by 13.2% in hours to account for 8.5% share of all radio listening and 17% of digital listening. The majority of digital listening is via DAB digital radio which grew 9.2% in hours to account for 36.3% share of all radio listening or 72.8% of digital listening. Listening via digital television grew 3.3% in hours to account for 5.1% share of all listening and for 10.2% of digital listening.

The most popular digital-only station is BBC Radio 6 Music with a weekly reach of 2.34 million listeners, followed by BBC Radio 4 Extra (2.26 million).  Commercial digital-only stations took third and fourth place, with Kisstory (1.71 million) once again being the most popular commercial digital station, with Absolute 80s in second place (or fourth overall) with a weekly reach of 1.47 million listeners.

Listening has grown across national and local stations, with national digital listening hours increasing by 7.3% year on year to 58%, and local digital listening hours to 34.7%, up 13.7% from Q4 2016.

In car digital listening hours have grown by 25% year on year, an increase of 15.9 million hours, and reached a new record share of 32%. DAB digital listening in cars contributed to 50% of all DAB digital listening growth.

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: 
“Listening on a digital platform is fast becoming the norm for all age groups with nearly 50% of all listening now being digital. This quarter we have seen a strong surge in digital listening for commercial radio stations, which is now 51.6%, boosted by the strong audience growth of a number stations including Radio X, Kisstory, Kiss Fresh, Virgin Radio, and the success of new station Heart 80s, to name a but a few. On the BBC, it’s great see the iconic BBC Radio 4 having over 50% digital listening for the first time and a new record audience for its sister station, BBC Radio 4 Extra.”