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HD Radio Awareness Up, But Survey Says Interest Low

Glendale, Calif. – Consumer awareness of HD Radio is up, but awareness of the benefits if digital AM/FM has dipped, and only a small percentage of consumers are interested in buying HD Radio, according to a consumer survey conducted by a radio ratings and research company.

The company, Bridge Ratings, surveyed 2,448 people in December and early January and concluded that awareness has increased “significantly” in all age groups beginning with 12-year-olds. The trend is “a positive sign that the industry’s marketing efforts to raise awareness have worked,” the company concluded.

Nonetheless, “there is considerable confusion, misinformation or total lack of understanding as to what HD Radio is or what its benefits are to the consumer,” the company said. “This, we feel, is one of the greatest challenges to the growth of HD Radio.”

As a result, the company lowered its 2007 unit-sales forecast for the U.S. to 1.5 million from a previously forecast 2.1 million. Bridge Ratings expects sales to “grow slowly” through 2010, when it projects sales of 12 million units to consumers.

Bridge Ratings concluded that “even with some of the Christmas holiday price discounts (such as Radio Shack’s), $99 was too high of a price point for our panel of consumers.” Visibility at retail needs to be improved as well, the company said. “Over 90 percent of our consumer panel could not remember seeing in the last 30 days an in-store display promoting HD Radio.”

In its latest survey, Bridge Ratings found that 72 percent of consumers ages 12 and up were aware of HD Radio, up from 62 percent in its June 2006 survey. In the 12-24 age group, awareness rose to 69 percent from 65 percent, and in the 25-54 group, awareness rose to 75 percent from 62 percent. In the 55+ group, 71 percent were aware, up from 55 percent.

In the same survey, however, the percentage of people who understand what HD Radio is and what it does dipped slightly to 15 percent from June 2006’s 19 percent. In the 12-24 group awareness dipped to 24 percent from 25 percent, and in the 25-54 group, awareness slipped to 13 percent from 15 percent. In the 55 and up group, 7 percent were aware compared to 10 percent in June 2006.

The low levels of understanding contributed to a dip in the percentage of consumers who said they were interested or very interested in buying an HD Radio. Only 8 percent were interested in the latest survey, down a tad from 11 percent in the June 2006 survey. In one positive sign, however, the survey found that the youngest group, ages 12 to 24, was the most interested, pointing to future growth potential as the demographic enters its peak buying years. A total of 28 percent of 12-24-year-olds were interested or very interested in buying HD Radio, although that slipped a bit from 31 percent. Among 25-54-year-olds, 14 percent were interested, down from 17 percent. Only 3 percent of people ages 55 and up were interested.