Tuesday 14 December 2021

DAB Radio Consumer Demand: Clouds on the Horizon

WorldDAB paints a positive picture but hides from many obstacles
At the WorldDAB Summit 2021 promotional venue several DAB stakeholders painted a positive picture of developments of this radio platform, foremost in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Today, 40 percent of French people can listen to digital audio broadcasting, said Hervé Godechot from the media authority CSA. Next year, half of French listeners will have 465 digital radio [stations] available at home.

However, a presentation about the recent UK Digital Radio and Audio Review poured some cooler water on the conversation according to a RadioWorld article. For instance, although DAB will be the primary platform for radio well into the next decade,” said Ian O’Neill, head radio/head of television for the U.K. government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, setting a firm date for shutting off FM could end up sabotaging digital radio.

The reason: Fixing a firm FM closing date could lead to a reduction in radio listening if FM listeners who were prompted by the change decided to move away from radio,”O’Neill said.

Coincident to this, the decline of all radio devices in the U.K. has continued now for some time,” said Lindsey Mack, BBC senior manager of DAB & BBC Sounds external affairs.

The most recent figures we have [show] that DAB in particular has declined by about 17.5 percent in the last 12 months. Now there’s multiple factors leading to that decline. One is obviously the growing use of smartphone and online music services, the launch of smart speakers, [as well as] the lack of innovation and features and product design, because most of the DAB radios have actually remained virtually unchanged, Mack said.

Research has shown that consumers, whilst they liked DAB, they find DAB radio is far too one dimensional, said Mack. DAB has also become a very much a replacement purchase. So there’s limited scope for market growth.He also noted that retailers are concerned the range of models available in stores have declined, leading to even fewer choices for consumers. Despite this, Mack said, DAB listening remains very healthy.

At the venue trends in consumer electronics sales were reported. Total 2021 spending was up versus 2020, said Max Templeman, insight director for consumer electronics at research firm GfK. Digital radio sales only showed a small value increase, he said. Germany, France, Italy and Belgium increased share of total Europe DAB sales, but the Czech Republic saw the highest growth rate. 

Otherwise there was no reports at the venue of any significant demand of DAB radio by consumers or listeners. Except for the UK listening figures are rarely reported by DAB stakeholders at any venue or in the media.  The fact that 40 percent of all listeners CAN listen to DAB does not mean they do listen.  Still probably 100 percent of the listeners CAN listen also to FM radio and Internet radio.

Globally, 85 million DAB-receivers have been sold - since 1995.  To be compared with the two major radio platforms with estimated 6 billion FM receivers and almost 3 billion smart phones in use.

Read more:

Strong Euro Support for DAB, but Clouds on Horizon (RadioWorld)

Educating Consumers, Sales Staff Key to Building DAB+ Receiver Sales (RadioWorld)

Also read

FM Remains the Economic Basis of Commercial Radio in Germany

Internet Most Important Platform for Digital Radio in Germany

British Commercial Radio Will Continue On FM At Least Until 2032.