Record DAB growth boosts digital listening

Digital listening has increased year-on-year to 45.2% share, up from 41.7% in Q4 2015, boosted by record levels of DAB digital listening, according to Rajar Q4 2016 data released today.   Digital listening hours grew by 12% or 51.3 million hours compared to Q4 2015, driven by record growth in DAB hours which increased by 23% and online hours which increased by 14%.

DAB digital radio now accounts for a third of all radio listening and 73% of all digital listening, with 31 million adults or 57% of the population owning a DAB radio – a year-on-year growth of 6%. Digital listening via online/apps now accounts for 7.4% of all radio listening and 16% of digital listening, while digital television accounts for 4.9% of radio listening and for 11% of digital listening.

The most popular digital-only station is BBC 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.  Absolute 80s re-established its position as the most popular commercial digital-only stations with 1.53 million listeners, with Kisstory taking the second spot with a weekly reach of 1.4m listeners.

National commercial digital listening hours continue to grow increasing by 21% year-on-year to account for almost three quarters (73%) of all national commercial listening, following the launch of the second national DAB commercial network broadcasting 19 national commercial stations in March 2016.

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.

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.

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.”