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Radio in car: the future is DAB together with the internet

Free, expanded robust coverage and great station choice - the future of in-car radio will be a combination of digital broadcast working alongside the internet

The major car manufacturers are playing catch up. They're actively pursuing connected car strategies that will enable drivers and their passengers to access and enjoy the range of online services and entertainment options that they already have in their home.

Over time, this will turn many cars into a laptop or tablet on wheels and it has the potential to transform the range of options available in-car. New connected cars, when they come, will all be fitted with DAB/FM radios and the driver will get to choose whether to listen to live radio, music streaming services or their digital music library while their passengers are checking out Facebook or Twitter. Much like the average home.

However, what we know about people’s behaviour in home is that even when they have virtually unlimited entertainment and information options, 90% of people choose to listen to live radio.

In fact, radio in the digital age is in rude health: with record levels of people listening. One of the reasons for this is the way radio complements online browsing and social media use. The vibrancy and relevancy of live radio continues to make it prosper and grow in the face of competition from multiple audio streaming services. In fact, according to BBC research, radio dominates the audio sector with an 80%+ share of ear competing with audio libraries, streaming services and recorded music.

So, we can assume that when they get in their car people will continue to want to listen to live radio in their car. The question is: how will it be delivered to them?

The certainty for car manufacturers is that they will retain broadcast radio capability in every car alongside whatever version of connected IP delivery they choose. We know that motorists will continue to demand free-to-air broadcast radio in their cars - radio that is free and doesn’t rack up considerable data charges. Radio that they can rely on to have a consistent robust signal – one that doesn’t buffer and break up when you get out of town. Of course broadband speed and capacity is improving all the time but BBC research has shown that if people were stuck in a traffic jam and they were all trying to stream live radio the network couldn’t cope.

Undoubtedly car radio technology is changing, and this provides an opportunity which broadcasters are determined to embrace. In the UK we are well placed to do this, with the vehicle manufacturers having a seat on the Board of industry body Digital Radio UK. DAB in all new cars in the UK is almost a given: BMW are currently at 100%, Volkswagen at 80% and Ford at 75%. They aren’t going back. DAB is good for car manufacturers and drivers: it’s free, it’s easy to use, it doesn’t distract, it offers greater choice , it has digital data providing artist and track information and listeners say they prefer its digital sound quality.

The opportunity is for the broadcasters and the car manufacturers to harness IP technology and capability with DAB to deliver live broadcast radio but combined with highly personalised interactive services that deliver personal travel information, click-and-buy music tracks, time-shift favourite radio shows and deliver targeted location information about where to buy products and services. The UK radio industry is working closely with vehicle manufacturers to deliver this via RadioDNS in parallel with leading the transition to DAB/DAB+ in all cars and working to optimise the Radioplayer mobile app for cars.

Radio will continue to adapt and thrive: and that means a better, and probably ultimately hybrid, radio experience for motorists.

Ford is Chief Executive Officer at Digital Radio UK, the industry body that works with Government, BBC and the commercial radio broadcasters , vehicle and radio manufacturers, retailers and a wide range of stakeholders to accelerate digital listening and enable the expansion of the digital radio platform.
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6 comments

Recommendations: 0
Kevin Hunt
posted

Yet more propaganda from Mr Ennals – that is his job, after all…..... I am sure some of it may be true, especially regarding “New connected cars, when they come, will all be fitted with DAB/FM radios” ( Note DAB/FM – still need FM eh Mr Ennals? ). Also “Radio that they can rely on to have a consistent robust signal – one that doesn’t buffer and break up when you get out of town” – just like my FM radio perhaps?!
As I have commented before, let us have DAB if we must but as an adjunct to FM quality – not instead of it!

Recommendations: 0
Jack Perkins posted

DAB was the wrong choice for several reasons. The correct choice for new radio technology is DRM. Tom Petty sang “...People ain’t gonna pay, for what they used to get for free…”

Recommendations: 1
Ben Poor
posted

People, people, you’re missing the point of the article – its about how the future is Broadcast+IP – it doesnt matter on the exact platforms. Listeners dont care what platform they’re listening to, so while you’re busy arguing about FM, DRM and DAB (and AM?), people are getting confused and wondering why they should bother with radio at all.

Lets just all agree that radio is awesome and then move on.

Recommendations: 0
Art Grainger posted

Yet more propaganda from Mr Ennals – that is his job, after all…..... I am sure some of it may be true, especially regarding “New connected cars, when they come, will all be fitted with DAB/FM radios” ( Note DAB/FM – still need FM eh Mr Ennals? ). Also “Radio that they can rely on to have a consistent robust signal – one that doesn’t buffer and break up when you get out of town” – just like my FM radio perhaps?!

I would like to know where in Scotland, other than the very immediate vicinity of an FM TX mast, I can get a consistent, robust signal. In all my years of living, working and travelling around here, I am struggling to find such places. DAB on the other hand most certainly offers that.

Recommendations: 0
James Cridland
posted

Jack Perkins says…

DAB was the wrong choice for several reasons. The correct choice for new radio technology is DRM. Tom Petty sang “...People ain’t gonna pay, for what they used to get for free…”

And Tom Petty is right. In case it’s not escaped you, DAB is free – no subscription fees at all (unlike Sirius XM, which he might have been singing about). And, unlike DRM, receivers are available now. Why would you say that DRM is better than DAB?

Recommendations: 1
Ash Elford
posted

Unlike many people who harp on about DRM, I do actually own a DRM radio! I think I’ll stick with DAB thanks.

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Credits: Photo Flickr / Charlie Matters