Data from digital and hybrid radio across the world

The gems in a side-room at a radio conference

By James Cridland
Posted 23 October 2017, 5.40am bst

At Radio Alive, the newly-rebranded radio conference in Australia last week, I sat through some well-produced discussions in the main room. Some very high quality speakers covered many areas of Australian radio, including much discussion about advertising, branding and commercial content.

These discussions are great to have: they bring advertising agencies and others to the conference, and are clearly part of the future of commercial radio. I absent-mindedly examined the timetable, though, and discovered that in a side room there was a conversation about DAB+ and hybrid radio.

I found my way over there, and discovered a ton of useful statistics.

"Less than 10% of radio listening is via the internet", said the Commercial Radio Australia CEO, Joan Warner, and she shared some more Aussie DAB+ stats. DAB+ is being expanded here in Australia, though in private chats afterwards with people familiar with the project, it seems the slowdown is to do with the regulator and law being achingly slow.

Ford Ennals from Digital Radio UK was there, too. He's keen - along with many others, it seems - that retailers stop selling analogue-only radio receivers. As I’ve said in past columns, it’s strange that retailers are willingly selling something that might stop working in the near future; but given nobody apart from the Norwegians and Swiss have actually said they’re turning off analogue, perhaps they need a bigger reason.

DAB+ is in almost every new car in the UK: but here are the overall figures for all the cars on the road - 30% of all cars in the UK have a digital radio installed. This is where Norway’s initial dip in listening appeared to have come from - and we discovered that Norway (which is not really a very big country) is selling more car DAB adaptors than the rest of the world put together. Digital Radio UK is also trying to get the user experience a bit better. "Two thirds of people didn't understand how to find a station on their digital car radio" said Ford Ennals of their research; they’re working with car manufacturers to get better.

Chris Johnson from RadioApp, the Australian joint radio app, had some nice data from the app's first twelve months, and lots of other data that I've written up for an article in Radio World.

Joe D'Angelo from Xperi shared this example of the complex metadata events in a typical hour of radio. It's more than just a logo if you want to do it right; and something overlooked by many that enhancing the radio experience is probably not just slapping a station logo onto a screen.

Meanwhile, Nick Piggott from RadioDNS showed some nice shots of the new hybrid radio. inside an Audi A8. There’s some real momentum going on in hybrid radio, and it’s nice to see it.

Finally, Clive Dickens (ex of Absolute, still at Jack Oxford, also at 7 Network) said that "catch-up radio is not a thing" when it comes to the future of radio. He's right - for most music radio programming.

It goes to show that for most radio conferences there’s always some gems to be found: but sometimes you need to seek out the smaller sessions. A thoroughly eye-opening morning.

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.

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