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Now Is the Time for DAB Slideshow

It’s now possible for home receivers to feature color screens and retail for less than €50 — good news for manufacturers and broadcasters alike

Information that is being sent over DAB/DAB+ in each region.

LONDON — Anything that you can turn into a JPEG, PNG or APNG (Animated PNG) can be broadcast over DAB/DAB+ and accurately triggered to appear in time with the audio. The Slideshow feature is one of digital radio’s many strengths but until recently the cost of color screens has restricted it to high-end receivers rather than the mass market.

Slideshow sends images alongside audio and this can be something as simple as the station logo and branding, information on the track currently playing or additional information to supplement news, weather and traffic reports. We are also starting to see stations linking in with social media feeds, advertising, competitions and, with the development of hybrid radio, encouraging people back onto the station or advertiser websites.

Components in DAB receivers have been getting cheaper each year and now it’s possible for home receivers to feature color screens and retail for less than €50/US$50, a significant drop and one that deserves attention from broadcasters and manufacturers alike. Color screens provide more options when it comes to designing menus, features and the overall user experience.

Examples of station branding from Australia, Belgium,
The Netherlands, Norway and Poland.

We recently undertook an international review to find out how Slideshow is being used around the world and what information is being sent to listeners. Norway and Australia are two countries leading the way, with German, Polish and Czech broadcasters also sharing an impressive range of information.

Station branding and song information are the most popular Slideshow images to send, from something as simple as the station logo through to webcam images showing the presenters at work. Song information is another frequent use case — often accompanied by album artwork as seen in these examples from NRK, Nova and others.

News, weather and traffic information are growing in popularity and are of notable value to listeners, particularly commuters and drivers who can quickly check for information on delays and accidents.

Traffic updates delivered by Slideshow in
Norway and weather reports from Kiss Australia.

The number of receivers with color screens for Slideshow is increasing steadily. For home receivers, Pure, Sony, Noxon, Revo, Hama and TechniSat are just some of the brands to offer models with color screens. A good proportion of factory-fit DAB radios in the car are also compatible with Slideshow.

Slideshow can open up new revenue streams, enabling advertisers to push extra information to listeners or using QR codes to host competitions. This is something we’re seeing in hybrid radio applications where listeners can use IP to click through to a landing or competition page.

In Australia the app for the LG Stylus 2 (which features DAB) lets people click on images delivered via Slideshow to go to station or advertiser landing pages. This could also be used to link to iTunes or similar services to buy the track currently playing, or back to detailed news and weather reports when these are being broadcast.

Radio’s future is multiplatform, and DAB and IP combine the reliability and coverage of broadcast radio with the interactivity of the internet. Receivers with color screens can add extra value where DAB broadcast radio is supplemented by services and information delivered via IP, while overcoming the battery life challenges associated with streaming over IP.

A QR code used to link to a
station website in Germany.

Combining Slideshow with IP allows broadcasters to link to adverts, competitions, social media feeds and more, opening up brand new revenue streams. This can replace QR codes displayed on slides as seen in this example from Germany, making it easier to direct listeners to relevant web links.

Slideshow has always faced a “chicken and egg” problem where broadcasters have waited for more receivers to include color screens and manufacturers have waited for more broadcasters to start sending images along with audio.

In collecting the examples above we were amazed by the range and quality of information already being delivered by Slideshow around the world. For broadcasters it’s an effective way of building closer relationships with listeners, and for manufacturers it’s an affordable way of differentiating products. As more countries roll out DAB+ and component prices continue to fall, now is the time for both sides to make the most of what Slideshow can offer.

Patrick Hannon is president, WorldDAB.

Radio World welcomes other points of view. Please send comments to [email protected].