HD Radio Alliance Preps New Campaign
The HD Radio Alliance, an industry consortium created to promote HD digital radio, is preparing a fresh wave of publicity in the New Year, with radio spots touting the availability of free HD2 and HD3 channels. Many radio stations are using HD to create niche channels devoted to a particular genre of music, e.g. all country or all classic rock.
The spots will also emphasize that the content is free, playing to what others have termed monthly "fee fatigue" among cash-strapped consumers. The HD Radio Alliance says the new spots will be heard on over 600 stations covering the top 100 markets, from Dec. 28 through March 28.
The first wave of HD Radio Alliance campaigns focused on building awareness of the new digital medium, which delivers CD-quality sound and allows broadcasters to offer a variety of data-focused features, like traffic and weather reports, along with the HD2 and HD3 "multicasts."
Subsequent campaigns continued the awareness push while also promoting consumer electronics retailers selling HD radio sets. The latest campaign, which focuses on HD2 and HD3 multicasts specifically, aims to "make the consumer proposition easy to understand."
It arrives as the total number of radio stations broadcasting in HD exceeds 1,800; the number of local FM HD2 and HD3 channels tops 900.
After the introduction of HD radio in December 2005, the HD Radio Alliance has struggled to raise the profile of the new medium, which has not received the same free publicity enjoyed by HDTV. In 2008, the HD Radio Alliance claimed that awareness of the medium had reached 77%, but other research findings varied considerably.
Over the last couple of years, studies pegged awareness of HD radio among adults at 45% (May 2007), 24% (April 2008), and 67% (September, 2008), leaving the picture fuzzy at best.
Turning to more concrete numbers, the installed base of HD radio sets in the United States remains fairly small: 1.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, up from about 600,000 at the end of 2008. Both figures include HD radios pre-installed in new automobiles.