The latest quarter’s RAJAR data (Quarter 4 2010) show that 25% of all radio listening is via a digital platform, reaching over 20 million people in fact. Listening on a DAB radio set accounts for over half of this (12.6 million), the rest comes from DTV, internet listening and listening on an unspecified digital platform. This sounds encouraging, however, it is by no means the full picture. Closer examination of the data shows up some interesting undercurrents.
Focusing on the largest platform from the recent set of results we see that 18.5 million people claim to own a DAB set. This figure of course has increased over time but, as referenced in the MediaCT Light Bite Quarter 4 summary, growth in this area appears to be slowing. This doesn’t really come as a big surprise; the data also show that over the last two years awareness of the platform has stayed at an average of 80% of the population.
So, people are as aware as they have always been, but buying is slowing down. Digital Radio UK, the switchover body suggests that Christmas will fix this and there will be the usual increase, however are there other gadgets out there which are contributing to slow down? Are the data collected over the course of the RAJAR survey starting to indicate that DAB has reached its natural saturation point? Certainly, some strong marketing stimulus is required to regain its momentum.
Even more telling are the numbers. 18.5 million adults are DAB owners, yet only an estimated 12.6 million are confirmed listeners. What are the other 6 million doing with their DAB sets? Further investigation shows that there are only 7.4 million listeners to digital-only stations, of which under half (3.3m) comes from DAB listening. This suggests that around three quarters of all DAB listeners are tuning to stations readily available on a traditional analogue transistor.
Do we have a nation where over 10% of the 15+ population own a device that sits in the room looking nice, but goes unused? A ‘nice to look at’ but ‘not-sure-what-to-do-with’ gift perhaps. When used, is this device just a more aesthetically pleasing method of doing what we have been able to do for years?
A worrying thought.