ABI Sees Digital Radio Prospects Improving Overall

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Technology research group ABI has released a study that suggests global radio prospects look strong going into 2015 -- but those looking for a dominant platform to emerge will remain frustrated, as digital audio content continues to span a variety of delivery systems.

A company press release stated the report projects a total digital radio receiver base approaching 200 million units (excluding smart phones) worldwide by 2015. Entitled "DAB, HD Radio, Satellite Radio, and Internet Radio", the proprietary study appears to define digital radio in very broad terms, including IBOC hybrid, DRM, the Eureka 147 technology family, satellite radio, as well as wired & wireless broadband -- all of which are capable of delivering real-time digital audio programming.

While no standard of delivery appears poised to emerge internationally, ABI seems to be joining a growing number of informed prognosticators who stress that how consumers receive their digital radio is far less important than new applications they'll find for fresh content and services, a trend that bodes well for increases in overall radio listening. Furthermore, even though broadband is increasingly a factor, consumer bandwidth costs will likely act to preserve and enhance the role of satellite and terrestrial broadcasters as smart phones become the dominant multi-mode media delivery platform.

In terms of specific platform numbers, ABI projects about 4 million HD Radio sets shipped by the end of this year compared to about 13.5 million DAB SKUs, primarily in the UK. In comparison, the number of Sirius and XM-capable receivers in the United States alone will substantially exceed 20 million, while so-called smart phones (including some with radio tuners) should surpass 45 million in the same period.

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