Digital listening sees strongest ever growth

Digital listening has reached a new record share in Q1 of 2019, up from 50 per cent in Q1 of last year, according to new RAJAR data. In addition, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries has announced a review of digital radio in the UK to develop a shared vision for the future.

These latest numbers were propelled by the ever-strengthening digital content offering alongside the proliferation of IP-enabled devices in the home and DAB digital radios in cars.

The annual growth of 5.5 percentage points represents the strongest ever growth in digital listening platform share since records began. Digital reach increased by over two million listeners to 36.3 million and overall digital listening grew by 55.9 million hours or by 10.7 per cent year on year.

Listening to all digital platforms grew year on year with DAB digital radio and online listening surpassing new milestones for the first time. DAB digital radio now accounts for 40.4 per cent of all listening, while online and app listening now accounts for 11 per cent.

Online listening in the home increased by 16.3 million hours year on year, with this quarter including the additional listening on IP-enabled devices such as smart and voice-controlled speakers gifted over the Christmas period.

The first quarter of 2019 saw a number of exciting digital station developments including a brand new schedule for BBC 6 Music; the launch of Chris Evans’ breakfast show on Virgin Radio; and new national stations, including Virgin Radio Anthems, Virgin Radio Chilled, and Greatest Hits Radio.

Digital listening grew across local and national stations to now account for over 40 per cent of all local listening and nearly 65 per cent of all national listening.

Welcoming the new listening data, Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “With record investment and a rapid rise in digital listening, radio is in a golden period of innovation with more ways than ever for audiences to enjoy high-quality content. I’ve announced that there will now be a review of digital radio in the UK to develop a shared vision for a vibrant and sustainable future for listening on digital platforms.”

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: “The first quarter of 2019 has seen the strongest-ever growth in digital listening since records began, driven by the launch of fantastic new digital content, both new shows and new stations, coupled with the growing number of new smart speakers in the home. A great example of the ongoing shift to digital is that there is now more listening in homes on DAB radios than on analogue radios.”