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2021: Best Year Yet for DAB+ in Germany

A decade after digital radio launched, Germany seeing accelerating growth for both listeners and broadcasters

It’s been a decade since digital radio launched in Germany, and it seems to be catching on with listeners. Digitalradio Büro Deutschland, the joint-initiative between broadcasters, receiver manufacturers, and network operators in Germany, declared the 2021 the “best year for DAB+ since 2011.”

According to the Büro, 2021 saw a 30 percent increase in number of digital radio receivers in German homes and cars over the prior year, and DAB+ signals are heard in about 27 percent of German households, some 11 million people. Around 20 percent of all radio listeners regularly tune to DAB+ programs.

On Dec. 21, 2020, regulations went into effect requiring radios with displays, as well as radios in cars, to be capable of receiving DAB+ signals. This resulted in the sale of about 1.83 million stationary DAB+ devices in 2021, a relative increase of 15.2 percent over the previous year.

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“The driving force behind the current DAB+ dynamism is the commitment of many private broadcasters, who are broadcasting new programs nationally and, increasingly, regionally via the digital terrestrial radio standard,” stated Digitalradio Büro Deutschland in a German-language announcement.

According to the Media-Analyse ma 2021 Audio media usage survey, the audience share for DAB+ is 20.4 percent among listeners 14+, and for the 30- to 59-year-old demographic that increases to 22.7 percent.

As of December 2021, about 300 DAB+ channels are offered nationwide, around 100 of which are digital only. The Büro also noted that DAB transmission infrastructure continues to grow in Germany with six more transmission sites going on air by April 2022 to close gaps in the transmission network.

In the first two weeks of December alone, public broadcaster NDR put into operation a new DAB+ transmitter in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania; private broadcaster Radio Arabella Bayern expanded its reach to cover all of Bavaria; and 37 private broadcasters in Saxony applied to join local, regional, and state-wide DAB+ networks.

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