DAB+ figures released in Australia

By James Cridland for
Posted 12 August 2015, 6.00am edt

Australia has released the first, ever, public audience research into DAB+ radio listening in Australia's capital cities.

Australian DAB+ radio launched in 2009. (The UK is typically held to have properly launched in 1999). DAB+ coverage is available across selected capital cities in Australia: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

In these areas, the GfK figures reveal that 24.1% of adults listen to DAB+ every week. (The figure in the UK is 37.8%).

73% of that listening is to simulcast radio stations that are also available on AM/FM; so just over a quarter is listening to brand new radio stations. In total, listeners tune in to DAB+ for 10 hours 15 minutes a week. (In the UK, the figure's 13.8).

The figures are compiled for Commercial Radio Australia, who also report on the most listened-to commercial DAB+-only stations.

Southern Cross Austereo is claiming to be leading the pack, running the most popular digital-only station in four out of five markets. Triple M Classic Rock, a brand-extension of the popular Triple M sport and rock station, is the most popular across Australia's DAB+ areas; the Triple M FM station in Adelaide is a classic rock format, so the alternative there on DAB+ is "Triple M Modern Rock", which unsurprisingly tops the charts there.

SCA's Digital Radio Content Director Jaime Chaux said "These first numbers see our digital stations off to a great start. Out plan here is to build a suite of stations that build new audiences and complement our two main brands. DAB+ listening continues to grow - especially in-car - so we're looking forward to seeing solid growth for the platform and our digital brands from here."

The CRA figures don't list public service DAB+ radio. The two public service broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, also run a bunch of digital-only radio stations.

The ABC's Double J, an older version of the popular top40/alternative Triple J format, is believed to be the ABC's best-performing digital-only station on DAB+, with ABC Grandstand, a part-time sports service with additional commentaries, also performing well.

The SBS runs a number of additional services, including pop music channels SBS PopAsia, SBS PopDesi, SBS PopAraby and SBS Chill.

DAB+ in Australia uses the updated DAB+ broadcast system. Most channels are carried in 48,64 or 80kbps AACplus format, in stereo. Broadcasters are allocated a chunk of bandwidth on the multiplex to divide up for themselves. Accordingly, unlike the UK, there are no new entrants on DAB+; stations are all from existing broadcasters.

There are now more than 45 extra DAB+ only stations on offer in the five metropolitan capitals, including targeted formats such as sport, talk and news, children’s programming, country, chillout and dance music and short term pop-up stations focused on events or particular seasons.

Sales of DAB+ devices have reached more than 1.9 million. Twenty seven vehicle manufacturers in Australia are now including DAB+ digital radio and 276,822 vehicles with DAB+ have been sold. With the addition of the number of vehicles sold with DAB+, it brings the total number of DAB+ devices in the market to over 2.2 million.

The figures above are based on the last three ratings surveys in Australia, from 8 March to 28 June. DAB+ is also available as a trial in Canberra and Darwin, but isn't included in the above figures.

More information

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.


5 years, 8 months ago

The protracted Darwin and Canberra DAB+ trials seem to be taking forever for listeners waiting for a full service launch. I believe test transmissions are also radiating on reduced power in the two metropolitan areas.

The relay extensions plan rollout, acting as subordinates to the main transmitters, should be realised soon in their respective metropolitan areas. I wonder what the digital radio plan will be for the sparesly populated Australian outback?
Will it be a DAB+/DRM marriage to minimise hardware costs?

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