DAB may become the next Betamax, according to media and telecoms specialist Enders Analysis.
While sales of DAB-capable devices soar, actual radio stations to listen to are starting to fade away. In recent months, Core, Groove, and Oneword have all closed while Virgin and Channel 4 have scaled back or delayed plans for their radio stations. While the BBC DAB stations continue to grow from strength to strength.
Why has this happened? Where has the BBC succeeded where commercial radio has failed? Will the BBC be left by itself to prop up digital radio, in the same way as it’s propped up digital television?
In my mind, it’s all about the content, and why people listen to radio.
People who just use radio as background music, and don’t really care which station they’re tuned into, as long as it works and they’re happy. They’re generally creatures of habit, and may well buy a DAB radio because it’s easier to tune, but stick to their own preferred station – which will probably be a traditional FM station.
Music fans generally hate the inane chatter of DJs and presenters. The ones who haven’t abandoned radio entirely for their own music soundtrack via iPods and downloads will want to hear new music recommended to them by their peers – does commercial radio provide this service?
Radio lovers, by and large, like the combination of both speech and music that radio can provide as an entertainment medium. While the BBC’s digital radio services provide this in the shape of 6 Music and 1Xtra, commercial radio stations are conspicuously absent in this particular arena.
Could it be that in the near future, the digital radio airwaves will be dominated by the BBC ?