2017 was a busy year for digital radio, with Norway making history, other established markets making strong progress and several new countries starting DAB+ trials. Patrick Hannon and Joan Warner look back on the biggest stories from the last 12 months.
“The world’s first digital radio switchover in Norway has been the biggest story of the year but it’s just one of a number of new and existing countries making impressive progress,” says Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB.
“In key European markets, the UK is fast approaching the 50% digital listening target that will trigger a discussion with government on radio’s digital future, Germany announced a second national multiplex and, in November at the WorldDAB General Assembly in Paris, France announced a rapid acceleration of its DAB+ roll-out plans. More generally, we’ve seen several countries expanding their digital radio networks or launching trial services.”
“Norway has been leading the way internationally and their experience is something that others around the world will be learning from,” said Joan Warner, CEO at Commercial Radio Australia and Vice-President of WorldDAB. “Looking to Asia Pacific, in the last year we’ve seen Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Laos all stating they are opting for DAB+, a strong endorsement of the standard. Meanwhile in Australia, several new DAB+ services are on-air in Canberra and the trials will transition to permanent services next year, with other cities to follow.
“Last month I presented at a two-day ASEAN Digital Radio Broadcasting workshop, hosted by Radio Television Brunei (RTB), to discuss recommendations regarding digital radio broadcasting technology. ASEAN countries are now at a crossroads – if they work together to develop a coordinated spectrum plan for the region, this will help achieve significant economies of scale in regard to spectrum efficiency & infrastructure costs. It will also help drive down receiver prices, currently available from just AUD$15, and help with vehicle imports and audience education.”
These international developments are driving sales of digital radio devices – over 60 million DAB/DAB+ receivers have now been sold around the world and prices are dropping as low as €20. In the automotive sector, 2.6 million new cars were sold with DAB+ in the first half of the year.
“Progress with automotive has been one of this year’s highlights,” said Hannon. “In the first half of 2017, the number of new cars sold with DAB+ in continental Europe grew by 43% – whilst, in the UK, 87% of all new cars are now sold with DAB+ as standard.”
“Projections by PwC show that nearly 60% of new vehicles sold in Australia in 2021 will be fitted with a digital radio,” added Warner. “This would nearly double the number of current new vehicles fitted with the technology. The research also showed that close to 4 million new vehicles fitted with DAB+ will be sold by the end of 2021, up from 862,426 at the end of 2016.”
DAB+ adoption across Europe and around the world is going from strength to strength, driven by strong political commitment, the launch of new services, increased coverage and investment in consumer marketing. With so much progress in 2017, take a look at our next article which covers predictions for 2018.