Digital radio's first audit exceeds expectations

Report reveals 449,000 listeners, 72,000 digital radio receivers sold in the last six months

Digital radio is attracting an audience that tunes in for longer than Internet radio's, says Commercial Radio Australia (CRA).

According to a Nielsen radio ratings survey (PDF) |Digital Radio Industry Report, 22 March 2010 (PDF)]], 449,000 Australian listeners in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide have tuned into digital radio. These people listened to an average of eight hours and 16 minutes of radio per week. People who listened to Internet radio did so for an average of five hours and 31 minutes each week.

The number of Australian listeners for digital radio falls just shy of Internet radio’s weekly audience of 504,000. Both radio formats are dwarfed by analog radio’s audience share of 11.5 million Australian listeners.

“Permanent high power digital radio services have only been on air for a short time and we are very pleased with these initial results,” said Joan Warner, CRA's CEO, in a media release.

Digital radio has been broadcast across Australia’s metropolitan capitals for six months, and according to data from market research company GfK Group, 72,327 digital radios had been sold through monitored retail outlets by the end of January.

“The market information in the Digital Radio Industry Report has exceeded the industry’s initial expectations. Initial predictions were up to 50,000 receivers sold in the first 12 months,” says Warner.

Business market researcher IBISWorld puts the radio industry’s revenue for 2009 at $1.2 billion, although it reports that revenue in the sector dropped 5.4 per cent in the year from 2008 to 2009.

According to the CRA report, digital radio is set to grow in the coming months, with 63 per cent of Australians being aware of digital radio’s existence and 38 per cent of Australians living in metropolitan areas considering purchasing a digital radio in the next 12 months.

The primary benefits that digital radio offers over analog broadcasts include clearer reception, better sound quality, more stations, and the ability to tune to stations by name rather than frequency. Some digital radios include the ability to pause and rewind.

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Matthew Lentini

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