The continuing build-up of listeners to DAB digital radio services – both commercial and BBC – is also impressive, with the weekly reach (proportion of the population) who now listen to digital radio up to a new record high of 28.4%. The largest growth is coming from DAB digital radio which has shown a 15% increase in the past 12 months.
The total number of hours of listening each week by UK radio listeners is now 153m, which represents nearly one sixth of all weekly listening. We are a long way from approaching analogue switch-off, and unlike with television there is no date or timetable for the transition to digital. There is also, in an analogous way to TV, the challenge of multiple radio sets – the average UK household has five each – and there is no converter "set-top box" that will make an analogue radio capable of receiving DAB digital radio.
But the audience growth of many of the digital networks is a cause for optimism. BBC 6Music and BBC7 have achieved record audiences this quarter (of 485,000 and 795,000 respectively), and more than half the commercial national digital networks have also hit new record Rajar audience numbers.
The biggest gains year-on-year are by the Magic Network, up 395,000, The Hits 312,000, Kiss UK 207, 000, Choice UK 186,000, and Planet Rock 126,000.
Other smaller gains and new all-time records have been notched up by Sunrise, Virgin Radio Classic Rock, Real Radio UK, Galaxy and Heat.