Southern Cross Austereo heads the digital radio field.

GfK has released the year’s first DAB+ survey results, showing cumulative audience numbers for each station. This is the first time since the first DAB+ broadcast in 2009 that audience numbers for all DAB+ only stations have been released one week after the official metropolitan GfK radio ratings.  Melbourne has the most digital radio listeners with 507,000 compared to 159,000 listeners in Adelaide.

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) is the largest commercial digital radio group with a 28.8% share of the total DAB+ listening audience, reaching 453,000 listeners a week.  SCAs Buddha Radio is the most listened to non-retail aligned commercial digital radio station with an audience of 144,000 nationally, followed by Oldskool with 121,000 listeners and Easy with 113,00. Double J is the most listened to digital-only radio station with a five city 200,000 audience.

The survey marks the first of changes to the delivery of digital radio results which will now be distributed eight times a year, one week after radio ratings and will include a publically available cumulative audience report and radio ratings database. The GfK data surveys the five DAB+ capital cities, both digital and online.

In other digital radio news, professional services group PwC is projecting that nearly 60% of new vehicles sold in Australia in 2021 will be fitted with a digital radio. This is almost double the number of current new vehicles fitted with the technology.  PwC forecasts that close to four million new vehicles fitted with DAB+ will be sold by the end of 2021, up from 862,426 at the end of 2016.

Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) chair, Adam Lang said: “Radio companies in Australia are exploiting the opportunities being delivered by the digital radio DAB+ platform. There are now more digital radio-only stations than ever, giving increased choice to the audience and to advertisers. The release of DAB+ figures each survey is another milestone in the growth of digital radio technology and the PwC vehicle forecast supports the ongoing growth in cars over the next five years”.

According to CRA chief executive, Joan Warner: “The radio industry is committed to a digital broadcast future via DAB+, combined with and complemented by online. Releasing DAB+ only station figures eight times a year will highlight the new opportunities the industry’s additional free-to-air DAB+ only broadcast stations now provide for agencies and advertisers”.

In-car listening remains one of the most popular ways for Australians to listen to radio and the growing audiences on the road are expected to contribute to the significant growth of DAB+ over the next five years.

Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast and Hobart are next in line for permanent DAB+ digital radio services.  Commercial broadcasters are working closely with the ABC and SBS on regional rollout plans, coordinating launch dates, with permanent digital radio services expected to commence by early 2018.

Figures show that 3.6 million Australians, or 27% of the population in the five capital cities, listen to digital radio via DAB+ devices each week. There are now more than 45 extra DAB+ only stations in the five metropolitan capitals, including targeted formats such as talk, news, sport, children’s programming, country, chillout, dance music and short term pop-up stations focused on events or particular seasons.