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Digital Radio's Reach Dips in UK

But DAB eked out a slight increase in listening share

February 28, 2017 | Media Buying | Media & Entertainment

Slightly more of the UK’s population ages 15 and older listened to any type of radio in Q4 2016 than in the three months prior. But somewhat counterintuitively, that uptick came via traditional AM/FM radio instead of burgeoning digital radio options.

UK Weekly Radio Reach and Listening Share, by Platform, Q3 & Q4 2016 (% of population and % of total)

According to Radio Joint Audience Research Limited (RAJAR) - UK, Ipsos MORI and RSMB data, 74.5% of the population tuned to traditional AM/FM radio in 2016’s final frame—up nearly 1 percentage point from Q3. By contrast, 57.9% listened via digital options, down from 59.0% in Q3 2016. In total, 54.8% of radio listening was done via AM/FM in Q4, while 45.2% occurred digitally.

Internet and DTV radio both saw small drops in reach, which were responsible for digital’s slightly lower share of radio listening overall. While less of the total population listened to digital audio broadcast (DAB) radio in Q4 2016, DAB was responsible for an incrementally greater share of radio consumption than in Q3 2016.

eMarketer wrote in January about the impending switch from FM to DAB in the UK, noting that government officials say the switch won’t happen until digital listening is responsible for 50% of total radio listening and DAB is as widely available as FM.

While eMarketer speculated that, based on Q3 2016 figures, that time might be nearing, the fact that DAB increased its share of radio consumption by only 0.6 percentage points in Q4 may indicate the changeover is not as close as some suspect.

—Ben Clague

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