Deep dive into DAB+ sees audiences dropping: GfK Radio 360 Survey 3, 2024

While DAB+ consumption is soaring globally, one of my jobs on survey days is to take a closer look at those results across the metro capital cities. smooth is often No 1 (or near to it) across most of them. CADA used to rule Sydney, until ARN abandoned the youth project at the end of 2023, and the 80s and 90s offerings from Nova, Triple M, KIIS and Gold do pretty well too.

This survey, GfK Radio 360 Survey 3, saw for all audiences 10+:

iHeartAustralia No 1 in Sydney (all Aussie music)

Gold 80s just ahead of TikTok Trending in Melbourne &

smooth fm No 1 in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

I rather feel that digital radio is like the third born son in Bridgerton, behind King Commercial Radio and Prince Podcasts. For major networks these offshoots, or offspring perhaps, are pretty cheap and easy to keep running to allow focus on the family line. For stations like Disrupt Radio, which was down again in Sydney to around 5000 listeners, they are the whole kit and caboodle.

With DAB+ in the last year expanding to reach more of the provincial centres, like Hobart and the Gold Coast, the drop in cumulative listenership this survey, in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, perhaps means its time for some of these stations to freshen up or have an overhaul.

One that has done this is MMM 90s (pictured). In early 2023 someone decided to rebrand it as MMM Tradie Radio. When the name change saw a sudden loss of audience, Triple M quietly reverted back to the original for Survey 1, 2024, and the listeners gradually returned.

smooth Sydney and Melbourne have been the success story of this survey, radio wise. Breakfast is up in Sydney and Melbourne and smooth 95.3 was No 1 in cumulative listenership Australia wide, knocking KIIS 106.5 of their perch. As mentioned smooth fm does very nicely in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, where they are only available on DAB+. In Sydney and Melbourne this survey, with people clearly listening to smooth via their radios, DAB+ consumption of smooth relax and smooth vintage, particularly in Melbourne, dropped sharply. Perhaps not something they are overly concerned about when King Mike Perso and Queen Bogart Torelli are doing so well.

That overall DAB+ listening isn’t increasing is something that stations might want to keep their eyes on.

I went back to Survey 3 2023, the first to use the new GfK Radio 360 measurement system, to compare digital listening now with then. No 1 then, in Sydney, was KIIS 90s with smooth relax second with smooth relax first in Melbourne. smooth was No 1 in Perth and Adelaide too and Nova 90s was on top in Brisbane.

If you compare the 2023 vs 2024 total digital cumulative audience for people aged 10+, every capital city has lost listeners, with Melbourne near to 100K, and only Adelaide showing a small gain.

Like Triple M’s quiet transition back to MMM 90s, maybe a 50K drop for Sydney and Melbourne this survey, plus 30K in Perth don’t really matter to a network bigger picture. I can’t help but feel it wouldn’t take much to create some hype around stations who are more dependent on DAB+ to survive (like Disrupt Radio and the ABC’s Double J, who did well this survey). Perhaps just a little additional ‘tending to the garden’ is all that’s required for some of the others too.

Afterall, it was the third son who wed Lady Whistledown.


Jen Seyderhelm is a writer, editor and podcaster for Radioinfo
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