Almost 450,000 people are listening to digital radio in the five state capitals each week, with the 104,000 digital radios bought by consumers in the six months since DAB+ broadcasts commenced more than doubling industry expectations, according to Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) Chief Executive Officer, Joan Warner.

The results are unexpected because the new digital radio take-up in other markets has been slow and broadcasts are confined to five Australian capital cities. At the moment, there are only 16 unique DAB+ radio stations (the rest are simulcasts of regular AM and FM station programming) and consumer awareness remains low. Still, with CRA’s own figures showing that around 11.5 million listen to analog radio each week, the DAB+ platform has a way to go.

According to a 12-month survey conducted by the CRA, most people buy digital radios for the sound quality, and spend up to $200 on a receiver. Broadcasters have launched up to 16 new DAB+ only services in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, where 20 % of those listening to DAB+ broadcasts are tuned into new DAB+ only stations, rather than DAB+ simulcasts of AM and FM programming.

The survey also showed that penetration of DAB+ remains small, with 3.7% of the 95% of people in the five state capitals who listen weekly to radio choosing to listen via DAB+. Internet radio audiences rate more highly, with 4.2% of the 95 % tuning in. Overall, internet listeners were also larger than DAB+ audiences at 504,000, but the CRA report claims people listened for longer to DAB+ at 8 hours and 16 minutes each week, compared to 5 hours and 31 minutes for internet listening.

More details about the survey and survey results follow in press release.