Friday, September 1, 2017

Digital Initiatives Give Radio a Boost in Western Europe

Digital radio is getting a boost in Western Europe. UK-based Radioplayer recently announced a deal to put smart radios in Audi automobiles, while Radio France will soon let its listeners curate their own playlist of the public service broadcaster’s content.

According to eMarketer, Radioplayer is a digital radio platform first launched by the BBC that’s now owned by a consortium of UK radio broadcasters. It allows radio listeners in the UK to stream broadcasts from more than 400 UK radio stations through web browsers, mobile devices and other connected devices.

In February 2017, it debuted Radioplayer Car, a voice-controlled “hybrid” radio receiver that allows older car stereos to switch between FM, digital audio broadcasting (DAB) and streaming options to find the strongest signal.

This week, Radioplayer announced that Audi would become the first car manufacturer to place the hybrid radio technology in its new cars. According to a Radioplayer spokesperson, it will be available in the UK, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Canada and Peru.

The new hybrid radios will also feature an application programming interface (API) that allows for the creation of personalized radio recommendations, search results and other content.

The Audi agreement comes as radio listeners in RealPlayer’s home market of the UK increasingly turn to digital options. More than 61% of adults in the UK listened to radio on a digital platform on a weekly basis in Q2 2017, according to Radio Joint Audience Research Limited (RAJAR) - UK, Ipsos MORI and RSMB.

In addition, the researchers found that 48.7% of radio listening during the quarter was done through a digital platform, up from 45.3% in Q2 2016. Digital radio is now closing in on parity with AM/FM broadcast listening in the UK.

Internet radio penetration among internet users ages 15 and older in France stood at 35.0% as of Q4 2016, according to Médiamétrie. Meanwhile, time spent with traditional radio has been slipping by a minute or two each year since 2014, according to Médiamétrie data cited in a Zenith report released in May 2017.

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