Digital radio on the up but analogue still top

Digital devices are gaining a foothold in the UK radio market, but the UK is still largely analogue, new research from YouGov SixthSense suggests.

The “New Generations and the Future of Radio” report shows that while more than six in ten (64%) radio listeners use AM/FM radios to tune in, a significant number now also listen through digital devices. More than four in ten (44%) use DAB radios, a third listen via the internet (34%) and a third through digital TV such as Freeview and Sky (33%).

YouGov's research also finds that such devices are changing listening habits for a significant minority. More than a quarter (27%) of those using a digital radio platform say that they listen to the radio more than they used to since starting to listen via digital and just 5% say they listen less.

The report shows that more than one in five (21%) listen through catch-up services and almost one in ten (9%) access podcasts of current programmes. Older content is even more popular, with one in six (16%) downloading archived podcasts.

However, despite its popularity, digital radio still faces a challenge in shifting analogue listeners away from their AM/FM sets. YouGov SixthSense’s research shows that among radio listeners not currently using a digital platform, just 6% report intending to get a digital radio in the next 12 months and 7% say they will get one as soon as they can afford it. By comparison, one in five (20%) intend to stick with their analogue set as long as possible and almost as many (18%) see no point in getting a digital radio. 37% could get a digital radio at some point but are in no hurry to do so.

Tom Rees, YouGov Reports' Research Manager, says: “Traditional ideas of what ‘radio’ means have started to change in the past few years. Digital means it is now possible to listen to things at any time across myriad devices and broadcasters are catching on– especially with the BBC opening up its archives. Broadcasters and manufacturers could benefit from promoting the flexibility of new platforms to people yet to change from AM/FM listening. However analogue is still the most popular radio medium and there are significant numbers of people who won’t switch from their AM/FM sets any time soon.

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