The growth in commercial digital listening was boosted by strong audience growth across a number of stations including Radio X, which increased reach by 26% year on year to 1.58 million listeners; Kisstory, which increased by 22.3% to 1.71 million listeners; Kiss Fresh which grew 17.5% to 578,000 listeners; Virgin Radio which grew 46% to 483,000 listeners; and the on-going success of Heart 80s, reaching 1.17 million listeners in its third quarter on air.
Digital listening to BBC stations grew to 48.3% from 45.5% in Q4 2016, with BBC Radio 4 exceeding 50% digital listening for the first time at 50.7% and a new record audience for its sister station, BBC Radio 4 Extra, reaching 2.26 million listeners.
Digital listening grew across all platforms, with the fastest growth this quarter being to online/apps which increased by 13.2% in hours to account for 8.5% share of all radio listening and 17% of digital listening. The majority of digital listening is via DAB digital radio which grew 9.2% in hours to account for 36.3% share of all radio listening or 72.8% of digital listening. Listening via digital television grew 3.3% in hours to account for 5.1% share of all listening and for 10.2% of digital listening.
Digital listening across 10-64 years olds combined is now 52.8%, and for the first time all individual age groups under 65 (10-14; 15-24s; 35-44s; 45- 54s; 55-64 year olds) have digital share of over 50%.
The most popular digital-only station is BBC 6 Music with a weekly reach of 2.34 million listeners, followed by BBC Radio 4 Extra (2.26 million). Kisstory (1.71 million) is the most popular commercial digital-only station, with Absolute 80s taking the second spot with a weekly reach of 1.47 million listeners.
Listening has grown across national and local stations, with national digital listening hours increasing by 7.3% year on year to 58%, and local digital listening hours to 34.7%, up 13.7% from Q4 2016.
In car digital listening hours have grown by 25% year on year, an increase of 15.9 million hours, and reached a new record share of 32%. DAB digital listening in cars contributed to 50% of all DAB digital listening growth.
Paul Hide, techUK, commented. "The Goverment have committed to review the options for a digital switch over once listening figures exceed 50%. Based on this strong performance over the last quarter we can confidently predict that we will break the 50% line when the next RAJAR figures are released in May. techUK will be asking Government for a clear commitment and timetable to switch once we meet the required 50% level of listening that the industry has jointly invested heavily in to achieve."