Digital radio listeners at home tune out

Digital radio stations lost listeners at home this spring, but overall the share of all radio listening on a digital platform remained above the Government’s stipulated switchover threshold of 50 per cent.

The latest Rajar figures showed that digital platforms accounted for the majority of all radio listening for the second quarter in a row at 50.2 per cent – up from 48.7 per cent year on year.

Last quarter was the first time that digital listening exceeded that on FM and AM, hitting 50.9 per cent. Digital Radio UK said at the time it anticipated the Government would undertake a review to assess digital radio progress and determine next steps in due course. Digital minister Margot James also confirmed that the Government would “work closely with all partners – the BBC, commercial radio, Arqiva, car manufacturers and listeners – and, subject to this, make some further announcements”.

The figures were boosted by the popularity of specialist music stations, including BBC 6 Music, which recorded its second highest weekly reach of 2.44 million listeners over the quarter.

KISSTORY was the most popular digital-only commercial station during the period, growing by 16.7 per cent to exceed two million listeners (2.02 million) for the first time, while other commercial digital-only stations that saw strong growth included Heart 80s and Kerrang!

While, audiences spent 16m hours less listening to digital radio stations at home, digital listening in-car rose by 20 per cent year on year and reached a new record share of 34.5 per cent.

Ford Ennals
Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio UK

Digital Radio UK attributed this growth to more than half-a-million new cars coming on to UK roads with DAB digital radio as standard in the second quarter of 2018 alone.

DAB digital radio listening grew by 3.3 per cent to account for 36.3 per cent of all radio listening and 72.3 per cent of all digital listening, while digital listening online and on apps grew by four per cent to now account for 9.3 per cent of all radio listening and 18.5 per cent of digital listening.

Listening via digital television saw a year-on-year decline of 16 per cent, to now account for 4.6 per cent of radio listening and for 9.2 per cent of digital listening.

Ford Ennals, chief executive of Digital Radio UK, said: “Q2 2018 Rajar data shows that the majority (50.2 per cent) of radio listening continues to be on a digital platform with some record performances from leading digital-only stations such as KISSTORY, which now has over two million listeners for the first time.

“It’s perhaps significant that during a quarter that has seen record-breaking warm weather that digital listening out of home and in-car is strongly up (by 14 per cent), while digital listening in home on all platforms has declined 4.6 per cent, led by a decline in listening on digital TV.”