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Digital radio isn't the only digital medium offered to consumers. Satellite radio, cell phones and the Internet are also delivering digital media to the same listener base. Projections show steady growth of all the sectors, with Internet radio and wireless Internet access making the biggest advances.

The success of HD Radio has a slower expectation. While the two satellite radio providers are expected to draw 15 million listeners by the end of 2007, HD Radio is not expected to exceed that number until sometime after 2010. The promise of HD Radio shows a quicker rise closer to 2020 when usage of XM, Sirius and HD Radio are expected to be about equal.

Content delivery by cell phone providers shows a gradual increase that stays well ahead of HD Radio until about the year 2017.

The big winner is Internet radio — particularly with wireless Internet delivery. The study shows that usage of HD Radio in the year 2020 will just exceed the usage of Internet radio from 2004.

This data assumes that no other technology will be introduced, and it is taking for granted that survey respondents view the potential technology of 2020 in terms of 2006 understanding.

It appears that the more promising course for digital delivery of audio entertainment is not through traditional terrestrial means, including HD Radio, but rather through Internet and the ever-increasing proliferation of wireless Internet access.

Source: Bridge Ratings. Sample: 3,200 persons 18+; random digit phone dialing and mall intercepts. Los Angeles; Portland OR; Dallas, Phoenix, New York, Boston, Washington, DC; Miami-Ft. Lauderdale; Burlington, VT; Denver.

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