Over 94% of the UK population is within national DAB coverage and the BBC has made a commitment to cover all major roads and motorways by 2015. Local coverage improvements are also being made all the time. Industry has just launched local services in North East Wales and Leeds for example, bringing local DAB digital radio to listeners for the first time.
The latest CAP/SMMT data was out last week and showed that the proportion of new cars with DAB as standard registered in a month has risen to 40.1% in July, up from 39.4% in June (CAP/SMMT July 2013). The year-on-year growth for the proportion of new cars with DAB as standard is now 61.7%, rising from 24.8% in July 2012. This is driven by Ford, VW, BMW, Mercedes and Toyota having moved the majority of their new cars to having digital as standard.
In terms of content, digital radio offers listeners, on average, twice as many stations as analogue.
Digital-only station BBC 6 Music remains the leading digital–only station with a year on year increase in listeners of 30%, to 1.8 million. BBC 6 Music has now overtaken BBC Radio 3 in listening hours with 15% more listening hours than the classical music station. BBC digital-only stations Radio 4 Extra (1.6 million), BBC Radio 1 Xtra (1.1 million) and Radio 5 live Sports Extra (950,000) all grew strongly.
And for the commercial stations, Absolute 80s is now the leading commercial digital-only radio station with a record 1.2 million listeners, a growth of 36% year on year, and Absolute Radio showed strong growth across its decade stations (60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s). Bauer’s recent acquisition Planet Rock’s listening figures are now combined with sister station Kerrang! and showed 1.1 million digital listeners. Jazz FM achieved new record numbers with listeners growing 32% to 758k year on year. Smooth 70s bounced back strongly with a 7% quarter on quarter on growth to a total of 730k listeners.