Digital listening edged closer to 50% by reaching a new record share of 48.8% up from 45.5% year on year, driven by strong DAB growth and record-breaking performances from a number of stations including BBC 6 Music, Kisstory, Radio X, Mellow Magic and Virgin Radio, according to RAJAR Q3 2017 data released today.
Total digital listening hours grew by 8% year on year, or 38.6 million hours, bolstered by DAB listening which grew by 40.4 million hours, or 12%, to off-set a marginal decline in listening to digital TV (-0.4%) and modest growth in listening via online and Apps (0.7%).
DAB digital listening is at a record level of 36% of all radio listening and 74% of all digital listening, with 61.6% of the population now owning a DAB at home compared to 57% in the same quarter last year.
Digital listening via online/Apps now accounts for 8% of all radio listening and 16% of digital listening, while digital television accounts for 5% of radio listening and for 10% of digital listening.
In car digital listening exceeded 30% for the first time to reach a new record share of 30.9%, a growth in hours of 15.7 million hours or 26% year on year. Digital listening in cars has contributed to 40.6% of all digital listening hourly growth.
Digital listening has grown across both national and local stations. National digital listening has grown by 7% year on year to 57.3%, whereas local digital listening has grown by 12% to 33.5%. Commercial radio and BBC have both grown digital listening share to 49.5% and 48.1% respectively.
Digital listening across 10-64 years olds combined is already comfortably above 50% at 51.6%, and all five younger age groups now have a digital share of over 50% (10-14s; 15-24s; 25-34s; 35-44s; 45- 54s year olds).
The most popular digital-only station is BBC 6 Music which scored a record weekly reach of 2.43 million listeners, followed by BBC Radio 4 Extra with a weekly reach of 2.15 million listeners. Kisstory is the most popular commercial digital-only stations with another new record reach of 1.82 million listeners, with Absolute 80s taking the second spot with a weekly reach of 1.53 million listeners.
Other record-breaking station performances include Heart 80s, reaching 1.08 million listeners to become the third most popular commercial digital-only station; Radio X growing 20% year on year to 1.52 million listeners; Absolute Radio 90s at 756,000 listeners, a growth of 7.5%; Virgin Radio at 556,000 million listeners, up 61% on the same quarter last year; Mellow Magic growing 22.4% to 519,000 listeners; and talkSPORT2 at 342,000 listeners, an increase of 36.8% on Q3 2106.
Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: “The growth of digital radio towards 50% continues, driven by a surge in DAB listening which has grown 12% year on year. DAB accounts for a new high of 74% of digital listening and is now available in over 60% of homes and almost 90% of new cars. The reason why digital radio is fast becoming the norm is due to the amazing range of digital stations and it is so exciting to see stations such as BBC 6 Music, Kisstory, Radio X, Heart 80s, Absolute Radio 90s and Virgin Radio finding record levels of listeners.”