Digital listening reaches a new record and edges closer to 50%

Digital listening has edged closer to 50% and reached a new record share of 47.2%, up from 44.1% in Q1 2016, according to RAJAR Q1 2017 data released today. Digital listening hours grew by 9% or 39.5 million hours compared to Q1 2016, boosted by strong growth of 1.2 million additional digital listeners with 66% of all radio listeners now listening on a digital platform.

Ten areas in the UK now have over 50% digital listening share, led by Nottinghamshire* at 55.7%, followed by Herts/Beds/Bucks, London, Leeds, Swindon and West Wiltshire, Surrey, Bristol, Sussex, Reading & Basingstoke, and Somerset, while three age demographics, 25-34 year olds, 35-44 year olds and  45-54 year olds, all have digital listening over 50%.

DAB digital listening has grown by 11% to a record level of 33.8% of all radio listening and 71.5% of all digital listening. Digital listening via online/apps now accounts for 8% of all radio listening and 16.9% of digital listening, while digital television accounts for 5.5% of radio listening and 11.6% of digital listening.

Digital listening has grown across both national and local stations. National digital listening is already over 50% and has increased to 55.3%, whereas local digital listening has grown to 32.8% and is increasing faster than national digital listening, with 12.8% growth year on year. Commercial radio and BBC have both grown digital listening share to 47.6% and 46.7% respectively, with commercial radio growing digital listening hours by 15% following the launch of new national and local digital stations in the past year.

The most popular digital-only station is BBC 6 Music which hit a new record for weekly reach and hours with 2.35 million listeners and 23.4 million hours.  Kisstory re-established itself as the most popular commercial digital-only stations with 1.55 million listeners, while LBC, which is distributed nationally on the Digital One multiplex, increased digital hours by 52% and digital listening share to 56.3% (from 47% in Q1 2016).

Q1 2017 saw the highest-ever recorded proportion of in-car radio listening, accounting for 23.5% 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 (Q1 2017 CAP/SMMT). In this quarter, in-car digital listening hours grew by 33% year-on-year to 64.3 million hours from 48.2 million hours in Q1 2016.

Speaking at the Radio Festival in September 2016, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, confirmed that the 50% digital listening threshold is important and ‘needs to be met before the government considers the merits of setting out a timetable for digital switchover.’

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: “The transition to digital radio has taken another significant step with 47.2% of listening now being on a digital platform and 66% of listeners listening on a digital platform. We are just 2.8 percentage points from 50% and 10 areas of the UK and three different age categories are already over 50% digital listening. We look forward to the achievement of the 50% listening threshold set by Government and working with the radio industry to determine  a clear road map for radio’s digital future.“

*Based on BBC Radio Nottingham TSA RAJAR Q1 2017