The HD Radio Alliance is nothing if not persistent. The consortium formed by big broadcast radio groups to promote HD radio technology is planning airtime worth more than $110 million on over 650 radio stations across the 100 biggest media markets in the U.S. in 2011.
The news comes despite a difficult economic environment, and follows several years of marketing efforts marked by somewhat ambiguous results.
The HD Radio Alliance claimed that 2010 was successful in terms of consumer awareness and manufacturer and retail partnerships with Apple, Microsoft, Best Buy, Sears, Ford, Hyundai, BMW. The organization did not provide overall sales figures for HD radio sets in 2010 or previous years.
Back in August -- Bob Struble, president and CEO of iBiquity, which controls HD radio technology -- admitted to Twice that "Broadcasters want to see some more eggs before they take the next step" in converting signals for HD multicasts.
As of the middle of 2010, 2,085 radio stations had converted to HD out of 13,000 stations in the country, equaling 16% of the total. That figure was only slightly up from 2,034 in 2009 and 1,900 in 2008. However, these stations reach about 85% of the U.S. population.
HD radio has made progress in the auto industry, with more deals with carmakers offering it as a built-in factory option -- including deals with 15 brands and as standard equipment on 36 model lines, according to Struble, yielding over 1 million actual adoptions by new car buyers.
In addition, the number of HD radio sets sold outside of cars is growing, but has remained fairly low -- increasing from a cumulative total of 200,000 sold by the end of 2006, according to iBiquity, to a cumulative total of "well over 1 million" sold by the beginning of this year, according to Nautel. (More recent data isn't available.) Overall, roughly 3 million receivers were in use in the U.S. in mid-2010.
That total compares to 9.4 million iPods sold by Apple in the third quarter of 2010 alone, totaling about 275 million iPods sold worldwide to date. On Tuesday, satcaster Sirius XM reported that it has more than 20 million subscribers in the U.S.