Infinite Dial 2021: Australians embrace digital audio, podcast listening soars | radioinfo

Infinite Dial 2021: Australians embrace digital audio, podcast listening soars

Thursday 29 April, 2021

More Australians are embracing digital audio post the pandemic, with podcast listening soaring over the past year and more people listening to radio using apps, catch-up podcasts and smart speakers, according to the annual Infinite Dial Australia 2021 study, released today by Edison Research and Commercial Radio Australia. 

Overall, 86% of Australians aged 12+ listened to radio over-the-air, online and via catch-up radio podcasts in the last month and 37% have listened to a podcast in the last month.

About 5.6 million Australians, or 26% of the population, are weekly podcast listeners, a 53% increase over the 2020 study that was conducted prior to the pandemic lockdown.

Smart speaker ownership also increased sharply. Twenty-six per cent of the population owns a smart speaker, a 53% increase compared to 17% a year ago.

“Australians have continued to embrace radio through this period of unprecedented disruption and are listening both live and online through multiple sources, including apps, catch-up podcasts and smart speakers,” said CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner.

“Radio has been extremely resilient in reaching mass audiences, while the uptake of podcasts has accelerated rapidly, positioning the industry well for continued growth and innovation in this area.”

The number of Australians 12+ who listen to online audio weekly including radio, internet-only services and podcasts, increased to 66% of the population from 63% a year ago. The average time spent listening to online audio was over 12 hours per week.

People who listen to AM/FM/DAB+ radio online use multiple sources: 46% listen through the radio station’s website, 44% listen through a radio station’s app, 38% listen through an aggregator app or website, and 23% listen through a smart speaker. This was the first time Infinite Dial reported on radio listening through smart speakers. Google Nest is the most popular brand, owned by 24% of the population, while 3% own an Amazon Alexa- enabled speaker.

Edison Research President Larry Rosin is “excited to present this new information to those in the audio space in Australia and we hope they can use it to move their businesses forward in 2021 and beyond. One of the key takeaways is the growth in podcast consumption in the last year.”

The fifth annual Infinite Dial Australia survey was conducted by Edison Research using a nationally representative sample of 1,001 Australians. The research was commissioned by CRA, Southern Cross Austereo/LiSTNR and Triton Digital. The report is available here.



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29 April 2021 - 1:01am
The story is very interesting and shows how lightning fast the industry we worked in is evolving. It's hard to keep up with all the changes, and I lament the fact that I no longer listen to a radio set but find my own programs from classic British comedy on BBC Sounds to Just plug the laptop or phone into a nice speaker and I'm happy. Nine year old grandson confessed the other day, he didn't know what a radio was. Claimed he wasn't kidding me. Oh well....
29 April 2021 - 9:56am
It is interesting that there are no figures for the numbers listening to DAB+ digital radio. It covers 14 million people. The CRA claims that 77 % of new cars are equipped by the manufacturer to receive it.
I am yet to see how many listeners listen to the capital city AM and FM programs using the DAB+ digital signal. The ratings combine this total and only report on digital only program streams.

As for the rest of the statistics, it is not important what the percentage increases are, what is important is to take the whole audience and give percentage listening by all the different means.
Anthony The Koala
29 April 2021 - 3:48pm
Digital IP streams are a way of accessing radio and TV broadcasts from sources outside our local metropolitan area, outside the state and outside Australia.

Access to content may well come from FTA broadcasters FTIP podcasters and subscription services. The latter includes subscription to real-time, VOD/SOD (podcasts) and audio books.

The quality and credibility of the material varies and is beyond the scope of this comment.

For many of the live streams, including video services for example BBC World or various state-run radio services, it may well be cumbersome to set up a dish and point the dish to a particular satellite to receive a FTA or subscription bouquet.

When it comes to audio services, DRM+ has the potential for interference-free radio reception via SW compared to AM SW which is subject to fluctuations in the ionosphere's conditions resulting in fluctuations in signal strength. The technique of an 'interference-free' digital transmission is due to the incorporation of forward error correction (FEC) in the digital signal. FEC is employed in digital satellite and terrestrial broadcasting (DAB+).

Unlike India which is employing DRM+ in its terrestrial broadcasts including reception of DRM+ signals in cars, other broadcasters together with DRM+ manufacturers are not promoting DRM+. For example one never hears of the BBC or VOA promoting DRM+. Yet it has been demonstrated that one can obtain a clear reception of DRM+signals over many thousands of kilometres.

As a result people are resorting to IP streams which requires a data plan with an internet provider. Depending on the bitrate of the audio or video live-stream or VOD/SOD podcast or FTIP or subscription, the time spent consuming these services corresponds to an increase in data consumption. Many plans with a 200GB monthly limit could be exceeded if one is consuming HD or 4K video or CD-quality audio.

On the other hand, broadcasters do not have the monopoly on providing content. It may well be that much of the audio and video material via VOD/SOD podcasts are from non-broadcasters.

Many of the recommendations to consume a particular VOD/SOD podcast may well come from authors or other organisations, not broadcasters.

Such content is not available from TV and radio broadcasters.

Consequently, it may well explain why digital consumption via IP is increasing: people want to consume services outside their local area, or follow recommendations from other entities or organizations to consume livestreams, podcasts, whether free or subscription. This is content that may or may not be available on terrestrial or satellite services.

Despite DRM+ SW demonstrated to provide clear reception over long distances, DRM+ SW cannot provide all the needs of diverse content especially where the market for a particular livestream, podcast whether free or subscription may well be in a market. That should deter the restoration of an ABC SW service via DRM+ to our Pacific Island neighbours.

Nevertheless, the topic of quality and credibility of content from digital services is another topic.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting, dynamic and splitting the complex issues, Belfield
30 April 2021 - 12:05am
You are a little confused about DRM.
DRM will work in all broadcasting bands. In the HF (SW) band it is DRM not DRM+. DRM+ is only from 47 MHz upwards typically to 108 MHz, yes including the FM band.

The only DRM from the BBC is in the HF band for Europe. All of the rest of their digital radio is on DAB yes the old one and DAB+. They do not have DRM+ in the UK.

Voice of America's Radio Marti is aimed at Cuba is has been broadcast in DRM for some months on high frequency.
Brazil has also been trialing HF broadcasts for the Amazon, but it is being received in the NW USA.

All DRM broadcasts regardless of the band is free of the distortions you describe. So, you can have FM quality sound on high frequency broadcasts including stereo!

India is yet to get DRM+. It has a network of 35 medium frequency 530 - 1602 kHz extremely powerful DRM transmitters. In addition they have 4 HF transmitters for international services in DRM.

Radio New Zealand has been broadcasting in AM and DRM in the High Frequency band to the Pacific for a long time and continues to do this, in addition China Radio International has taken over the old Radio Australia frequencies and some of their broadcasts are in DRM.

What you may not be aware of is that there is a 6 channel DRM+ modulator which feeds a single transmitter it can carry 18 programs, just like DAB+ does for the ABC/SBS in capital cities.
Anthony The Koala
30 April 2021 - 3:30pm
Dear Mr St. John,
Thank you for making the distinction between DRM and DRM+ and the extent that DRM and DRM+ are employed.

Given that other broadcasters are using DRM into the Pacific, all the more is for Australia to present her interests in the Pacific via our ABC. Radio Australia ('RA') should never be a local rebroadcast. It is subject to being switched off just as the internet has been switched off in countries subject to coups.

At worst, during WWII, people in parts of Southern Europe were threatened with death for listening to the BBC!

All the more for the promotion of digital shortwave broadcasts. Mr St. John saying that broadcasts of the DRM signal from VOA to Cuba and RNZ's transmission to the Pacific imply that listeners in those regions do have DRM receivers.

What are the numbers of people with DRM/DRM+ receivers in those regions? The well-to-do? What about those on a lower income level? If the latter is the issue, couldn't Australia resume its RA signal in DRM and our Government provide DRM receivers as part of an aid package and soft diplomacy? On the other hand, will listeners in the Pacific use the DRM receivers to listen to its competitors?

But at the same time, even with bouquets with many channels per bouquet, multi-channel broadcasts would not provide capacity and cater for all the VOD/SOD podcasts on the planet.

Consequently VOD and SOD podcasts and live streams on IP may be the only way to provide "channels" to consumers.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting Belfield
3 May 2021 - 10:23am
There will not be any receivers unless there are popular programs to listen to. Norway switched off all analog radio and now only has DAB+ ratings returned to normal in a year and are now increasing.

Radio New Zealand Pacific is using good sound quality DRM to transmit their programs to FM retransmitters in the islands. It is much cheaper than using satellite. It also means that those outside towns can hear it. It is also present during cyclones and tsunamis.

India now has 3 million new cars where DRM comes as standard. You can see a DRM radio at Tecsun Australia in Brookvale NSW. There are cheaper receivers designed and waiting for bulk orders. This only comes with broadcasts.
South Africa has just announced licences can be applied for DRM and DAB+ stations. Their FM band is very crowded.
High frequency DRM can carry two sound channels ie English and Pidgin along with a data channel for text, slideshow and emergency warnings.
DRM+ using the old disused TV channels 0 - 2 covers a much greater area than DAB+ but can now give the same program choice. As for spotify etc, it's like going to a library where as radio can be live people who select new music and documentaries which you would not know about. Lots of the Pacific have no access to the internet at a price they can afford because it has to be via expensive satellite.

China Radio International has taken over Radio Australia's channels and is using DRM. DRM+ can cover a radius of around 100 km when transmitted at high power from a high TV tower. High Frequency DRM can cover up to the whole world. Radio New Zealand Pacific has been received in Spain, but not all the time!
Anthony The Koala
3 May 2021 - 7:02pm
Dear Mr St. John,
Thank you again for keeping us informed on the state of DRM/DRM+.

Regarding the supply of DRM receivers, the Tecsun model, receives DRM SW, AM SW, FM and MW bands. Unless the economies of scale are in force, the receiver could well be lower than the current price of $500.

One wonders what is the price of a DRM/DRM+ receiver is in India. Surely they are not $500 if there are millions of receivers.

All the more, Australia should source cheaper DRM/DRM+ receivers and provide an aid package to our Pacific Island neighbours. RNZ may not be enough for soft-power into the Pacific. Our ABC should revive RA SW transmissions from Australia.

Having FM rebroadcasts of programs from RA and RNZ (via DRM) could mean that a Pacific Island nation may switch off the FM-retransmitter. At the same time, citizens with DRM/DRM+ receivers, there's the risk that they'll listen to non-RA and non-RNZ.

In conclusion, FM-retransmission of RA and RNZ(via DRM) could be switched off at any time. A revival of RA transmitted directly from Australia with local Pacific Islander citizens accessing the transmissions is a great soft-power way to reinforce our interests.

Thank you,
Anthony of thinking Belfield
5 May 2021 - 11:15am
Receivers is rapidly developing. High Frequency reception capability will become more wide spread because current receiver designs use SDR technology. A microprocessor can be programmed for the large number of available frequencies. Since the on air signal is digitised and then the filtering is done in firmware, it is easy to make and they are able to make any of the 3 digital radio standards by changing the firmware.
DRM is the only standard to include all broadcast bands.
Note: The Starwaves receivers will also receive DAB+

As for switching off retransmitters. Remember the coup in Fiji. They couldn't switch off Radio Australia in Shepperton Vic.
Anthony The Koala
5 May 2021 - 9:42pm
Dear Mr St. John,
Two points, one on DRM/DRM receivers and the restoration of RA directly from Australia rather than local re-transmission.

First, thank you for pointing to the latest DRM/DRM+ receivers at I must say that the Gospell model GR216, page 3 of the document looks very similar in style to the Tecsun Q-3061 at

The article mentions receivers decoding DRM/DRM+ in the MW, SW and VHF bands. My car's infotainment unit can decode analogue AM, FM and DAB+ as well as Bluetooth. The Sangean DPR-45/"Dick Smith" DPR-44 decodes analogue AM, FM and DAB+.

However none of the DRM/DRM+ receivers featured in the article from have a receiver decoding all analogue bands. It is similar to most receivers featuring DAB+ reception excluding analogue AM reception.

You mentioned that the receivers use SDR to decode the DRM/DRM+ signals.

One's PC can receive DRM/DRM+ transmissions using USB-tv dongles implementing the RTL 2832U decoder chip used in conjunction with HF frequency upconverters such as the "Ham It Up" branded upconverter, . The USB tv dongles are very cheap and can be purchased for about AUD $20.

I discovered the versatility of the USB-tv dongle 10 years ago when the supplied software allowed one to tune outside the TV band including broadcasts from NESB narrowcasters on say 154MHz. I must say the audio quality from the narrowcasters is "AM quality"/telephone quality, not FM quality even though the narrowcasters utilize FM encoding.

Furthermore, tweaking for bandwidth and noise reduction especially for analogue AM reception can be achieved with SDR software.

Secondly, your reminder of RA's signal could not be switched off during the Fiji coup because the RA signal was broadcast from Victoria not a local retransmission. I also that

Secondly, the direct transmission of signals from source country rather than local re-transmission is not subject to being cut to destination listeners by the destination country. The 1987 coup in Fiji demonstrates that RA could not be cut because it was transmitted from Victoria. Local re-transmission facilities can be cut.

Similarly countries can block IP access outside the country preventing views from other countries.

A reminder too that corporations can also block views that are considered politically incorrect while allowing illicit material such as porn and blasphemy.

Returning to broadcasting via the electromagnetic spectrum, it's imperative that RA's SW broadcasts resume, and in light of DRM transmissions with its consistent clear sound that RA's broadcasts resume from Australia. That is provided that there are enough DRM receivers to the Pacific Island listeners.

The one concern though is whether countries hostile to Australia's or NZ's view of the world may have the facility to 'jam' RA's signals.

Thank you,
Anthony of thinking Belfield
6 May 2021 - 1:34pm
Re: Tecsun Australia DRM receiver is badge engineering. It's the Gospell radio. It has a firmware upgrade to receive DRM in the 87.5 - 108 MHz band.
77 % of new cars in Australia contain DAB+/FM/AM radios. Bluetooth is a good way to upgrade car infotainment systems for DRM. The Starwaves Tuktuk radio can be placed in the boot. There is no DRM because there are no DRM broadcasts. India has high powered DRM broadcasts and 3 million cars with DRM and rising.
Starwaves has a program for the RTL SDR stick which will receive DRM+ on a phone or computer. The RTL SDRs currently will not tune below 22 MHz.

There are SDR DRM radios which can be tuned via the internet.

I don't think the Pacific DRM broadcasts are publicised. Radio Australia would have to do this at electronics and brown goods retailers.

As for jamming it is harder to do on a DRM signal because the jammer must be on exactly the centre frequency. Adjacent channels are ignored as are weaker signals due to COFDM, data shuffling, forward error correction. China has high power HF DRM but is further away from the South Pacific ocean.
Anthony The Koala
7 May 2021 - 4:39pm
Dear Mr St. John,
Two points:
(1) "There are SDR DRM radios which can be tuned via the internet.".

It is not unusual that instruments. testing and measuring equipment can be controlled remotely. They've been around since the invention of protocols such as RS-232, IEEE:488 and USB. Controlling via IP is no different. Over 20 years ago, I wrote a program in Java and VB that made LEDs 'dance' on a spare expansion slot of a 286 machine controlled by another 486 machine over an IP network.

By the way learning more about programming in VB was inspired by volunteering for a now defunct project at 2SER-fm in the late 1990s under the then Chief Engineer Mr Bruce Guinn.

Anyway I tried the browser remote control application demonstration at the Tecsun site by entering 873kHz (2GB) and 702kHz (2BL=ABC Sydney) and the signals were quite noisy, more noise than signal. I am theorising that it may be due to the position of the receiver's antenna.

Nevertheless, the interface at the Tecsun site was a demonstration that the instrument was able to be remotely controlled and the sound from the radio was outputted from the radio via an IP stream.

(2) In regards to jamming signals, CODFM is the combination of various mathematical techniques, heading 8, page 12,, which makes the signal " to cope with severe multipath and the presence of co-channel narrowband interference...." consequently making the received signal resistant to jamming.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting and researching Belfield

10 May 2021 - 10:09am
The Tecsun Australia SDR receiver is located at Araluen which is in a valley near Bateman's Bay Far South Coast NSW. In the coverage area of the Mt. Wandera ABC local radio, medium power FM transmitter was burnt down.
There are many of these on line SDR receivers around the world including New Zealand. Most of them will decode DRM when selected.
Anthony The Koala
11 May 2021 - 9:01pm
Dear Mr St. John,
If Tecsun's office is in Brookvale, why would they put their receiver near Batemans Bay?

I tested the online radio for a range of frequencies. For Bateman's Bay, one would think that there is better reception from Canberra than Melbourne.
Here are a list of selected stations from the website radio.
Received between the hours 2030 - 2100, 11-05-2021

576 kHz RN Sydney
666 kHz ABC Canberra
927 kHz 3UZ Sport Radio clear
1053 kHz 2CA - weak and noisy
1125 kHz 1RPH Canberra - weak
1206 kHz 2CC - weak and noisy - relaying 2SM as at 2041 11-05-2021
1314 kHz 2WL clear
1422 kHz 3XY Radio Hellas, Melbourne clearish
1431 kHz, ABC PNN clearish with noise

I need to be elucidated on radio receiving conditions in the Batemans Bay area. Melbourne very clearish (speckles of noise), 2WL clear, but Canberra, in which one thinks is closest to Batemans Bay reception not-so-crash-hot.

Thank you,
Anthony of listening Belfield
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