campaignlive.co.uk, Tuesday, 16 December 2003 12:00AM
1. There are five million listeners through digital television
It's not just media experts and Mr Jones at number 39 tuning into digital radio. Five million people are already listening at least once a week via digital TV, giving them a taste of what they could get if they buy a digital set. And by the summer of this year, nine million said that they had tuned in through the TV at least once. That's a 45 per cent increase on the year before.
2. Consumer awareness has doubled
You can run, but you can't hide. In just 18 months to the summer of this year, consumer awareness of digital radio has doubled, according to research from the Digital Radio Advertising Bureau. So, around one-third of the population (or 18.9 million people, to be more exact) will no longer answer questions about digital radio with the words: "What's that?"
3. There are 144 radio brands
If you choose to tune in, there's plenty of choice. There are 144 different radio brands on DAB digital radio, 107 of which are commercial. Those that have jumped on the digital bandwagon include everything from the BBC's raft of digital stations through mainstream commercial to ethnic stations and other smaller or more limited operations, which have taken advantage of digital to reach a bigger audience.
4. Forty per cent of Kiss listeners are digital
Some stations have used digital to work wonders. Digital has transformed a number of radio stations that were once local FM broadcasters. The likes of Kiss, Jazz FM and Xfm are working their way out of relative obscurity on the back of DAB digital radio and internet distribution. In fact, 40 per cent of Kiss listeners tune in via digital and Xfm has mushroomed from being a London in-thing to being in 16 urban areas across the UK.
5. Millions are about to buy a digital radio
An estimated 3.4 million consumers have said that they intend to buy a DAB digital radio in the next six months. So, according to Ipsos tracking research, 6 per cent of their sample of 1,000 punters were itching to spend. That's a lot of people wanting to get their nearest and dearest a new bit of radio kit for Christmas.
6. There are 51 products out there
The good news is that there's more and more choice of where and what to buy. There is something in the region of 51 different DAB products available from 30 different manufacturers. Bigger companies are getting in on the act. Young, British entrepreneurs such as Pure Digital have been joined by Bush, Samsung, TEAC and, next year, Sony will also be there. Not surprisingly, perhaps, since digital radio is the fastest growing sector in the consumer electronics market.
7. Sets are stocked in 3,000 retailers
With mainstream retailers apparently queuing up to stock these natty little new technological arrivals, you can go to WH Smith, Boots and even your local supermarket to get your digital radio fix.
8. The price of sets has fallen to below £100
More good news. Prices for these new digital creatures have dropped considerably. The average price has dropped from around £300 to £100 and you can pick one up for just under £80. There's a snazzy £199 model from Roberts with a recording facility which allows timeshift listening. Oh, and a very pretty clock radio from Bush in the shape of a stainless steel cube, priced at £79-£95.
9. There's a bit of a shortage
So, what's the bad news? Well, there may be several million people heading for the shops, but there ain't several million sets to buy. There could be some disappointed faces this Christmas, when people discover that their Boots tokens won't buy a bit of leading-edge technology.
10. Eighty per cent of mobiles will have radios by 2004
Carphone Warehouse estimates that by 2004, 80 per cent of mobile phones sold will have a radio, making it harder and harder to escape digital radio. And why would you want to? Research shows that 20 per cent of adults and 34 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds would listen to radio via their mobile if they could. We've seen the future and it's noisy.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk