#RAJAR - DAB increases; analogue listening declines to 50% of total

By James Cridland for
Posted 28 October 2015, 8.01pm edt

Analogue listening now only accounts for 50.4% of all radio listening - declining from 56.4% in just a year - according to new listening figures.

When 50% of all radio listening is digital (it's 41.9% at present), the wheels will be put in motion for a switchoff of FM. They're already turning FM off in Norway, and there are apparent plans for this in other European countries.

Total analogue listening has fallen by 34m over the last year; while listening on a digital platform has more than replaced it - growing by a total of 48m hours. "Digital radio" means DAB, DTV and the internet.

A few interesting facts from the recent figures are:

  • DAB Digital Radio is growing faster than the internet (14% increase in hours rather than 9%)
  • DAB Digital Radio is listened-to four times as long as radio over the internet (286m hours vs 65m for internet)

Internet radio listening is called "online and apps" by RAJAR, highlighting the different platforms you might listen.

Listening over Digital TV is relatively stable.

Press release


A digital tipping point has been reached as analogue listening declined year on year by 10.4% to just over 50% of listening (to 50.4% from 56.4% in Q3 2014), according to Rajar Q3 2015 data released today.

Over 30 million people or 56% of adults listen on a digital platform every week, with digital listening hours growing year on year by 12.5% (to 433m hours from 385m in Q3 2014) and to a new record platform share of nearly 42% (to 41.9% from 37.8% in Q3 2014).

Listening on all digital platforms grew year on year led by a 14% increase in DAB listening (to 286m hours from 250m hours in Q3 2014) and a 9% increase in online listening (to 71m hours from 65m hours in Q3 2014). Listening on digital TV grew by 2% (to 52m hours from 51m hours in Q3 2014). DAB ownership grew by 10% year on year to 53.6% of all households (from 48.7% in Q3 2014).

Digital listening in cars grew by 41% year on year (to 43.3m hours from 30.8m in Q3 2014) and now accounts for over 19% of all in car listening (19.3% from 13.8% in Q3 2014), boosted by growth in new cars being fitted with digital radio as standard.

Over 50% (50.6%) of total listening hours to National BBC and commercial stations are now digital for the first time, and there was strong growth in both BBC and commercial digital listening with their digital platform shares increasing to 42.4% and 41.2% respectively (from 38.4% and 36.5% in Q3 2014).

There were record-breaking performances by BBC digital-only stations. BBC Radio 4 Extra increased by 35% to 2.2m listeners (from 1.6m in Q3 2014), over-taking sister station BBC 6 Music (2.19m listeners, up 10% from 1.99m in Q3 2014) to become the No 1 digital-only station. BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra increased by 42% to a record 1.7m listeners (from 1.2m in Q3 2014) boosted by listening to exclusive coverage of the summer cricket Ashes series.

There was strong growth for commercial digital stations with Absolute 80s retaining its position as the No 1 commercial digital-only station growing by 10% to 1.57m listeners (from 1.4m in Q3 2014). Kisstory grew year on year by 34% to 1.3m listeners (from 0.97m in Q3 2014) ahead of its national expansion on the second national commercial digital radio multiplex in early 2016. In its first Rajar period, digital-only station Smooth Extra recorded 930k listeners while Capital Xtra’s digital listening surged by 55% to 600k listeners (from 388k in Q3 2014) on digital.

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: “The shift to digital listening is accelerating across the UK and the fact that listening on analogue platforms has declined to just over 50% of people is a tipping point. The 12.5% annual growth in digital listening hours to nearly 42% share is the strongest we have seen for two years. This is reflected in the success of national BBC and commercial stations on digital and this is the first time that digital listening of national stations has been over 50%. We are now counting down to the moment when the majority of all radio listening will be to digital.”

More information

Digital Radio UK
Digital radio marketing body
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, 6 months ago

The strong performance of Digital Only stations is encouraging. It will be interesting to look at the breakdown of those stations by DAB and Internet (online and apps). I would venture to hypothesise that Internet has a larger growth there. Any possibility of validating that ?

5 years, 6 months ago

Interesting question, Shankar. Comparing year-on-year platform figures...

BBC Radio 6 music - total hours on DAB went up 10%; total hours on internet actually reduced by 9%. The increase in hours was delivered by DTV, which went up by 133% (ie more than doubled).

Capital Xtra - total hours on DAB went up 79%; total hours on internet went up by only 23%. (TV doubled.)

Planet Rock - total hours on DAB increased by 16%; total hours on internet increased by 51%. But - internet does particularly poorly for Planet Rock, accounting for less than a sixth of the listening of DAB; so the actual increase in internet hours is still less than the increase in DAB hours.

So, with these growing digital-only stations at least, no - DAB has still grown faster than the internet. [Capital Xtra and Planet Rock are/were also on FM in one UK city, of course.]

KISS [national] actually went down year-on-year on digital. Total hours on DAB dropped by 28%; total hours on internet dropped by 10%. TV remained static. For KISS, the internet does twice as well as the industry average, and is only around half the listening of DAB. TV remained static.

KISS isn't a growth; but it seems that attrition away from internet was less than the attrition from DAB. But I'm not sure it proves your hypothesis, I'm afraid.

5 years, 6 months ago

50.4+41.9≠100. What makes for the rest 7.7%?
The thing is, you can send & receive sound/audio either digital OR analogue — it is a rather strict dichotomy.
Thus, this rest 7.7 might only account for the radio that does not happen to be listened to - at all. Right?

5 years, 6 months ago

The other 7.7% is "don't know".

5 years, 6 months ago

Thanks James. Yes, it does seem to negate my hypothesis. But interesting that the Digital only stations have such high growth in DTV, when the overall DTV is flat.

5 years, 6 months ago

In my experience, younger stations do better on DTV. Presumably this is because kids don't have radios in their bedrooms, but do have TVs. (Actually, Ofcom research says they have neither, but that's an aside).

I think a lot of this has to do with the device usage. We will leave "a radio" on for a long time, since that is the only function it is capable of (and the same goes for a TV). My TV has had BBC News on it for the last 30 minutes, on silent, not because I am watching it but because I don't need to use it for anything else and it's nice to occasionally glance at. The same usage is right for a radio received too - it stays on in the corner of the room. A mobile phone, laptop or tablet is very different; we use it for lots of things, and so average time spent listening is much lower. And that's why we're not seeing increases in internet radio listening: because the majority of it happens on a multifunction device.

As a consultant, I've plenty of ideas about where companies like Exaget should be going if they want to maximise their revenues...

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