Bridge Ratings' lastest study of American HD radio consumers included questions concerning satisfaction with their new radios. HD radio, or High-Definition radio has recently begun to roll out across the United Stations. Hundreds
of AM and FM stations across the country have licensed
HD Radio™ technology. Along with HD broadcasts of HD-ready terrestrial stations, sideband or HD2 multicasts, are available in 50 markets (including 42 of the
top 50). The number of new radio stations created tops 450 as of this Spring 2006. Initial markets
HD Radio technology enables AM and FM radio stations to broadcast for free their programs digitally - a tremendous technological leap from the familiar analog broadcasts of the past. These digital broadcasts provide listeners with new wireless data services and radically improved audio quality and reception. New HD-capable radios are required to receive these new digital broadcasts. HD radios are available from manufacturers such as JVC, Kenwood and Panasonic, factory installed in BMW cars and home and tabletop versions are available from Boston Acoustics and Yamaha.
Bridge Ratings projects slow but steady digital radio use over the next few years, and few consumers are listening at this time. However, early adopters are buying them and enjoying HD programming in many major markets today.
During the month of April and May 2006, Bridge Ratings spoke to 500 HD radio consumers ages 18 and over to determine an initial understanding of their use and satisfaction of this new technology. Consumers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and Dallas-Ft. Worth were included in this study.
All of the markets included in this study offer multiple HD versions of the AM or FM analog programming available in the market. In these markets at the time of this study, there were only a handful of HD2 or side-channel stations:
Los Angeles - 9
San Francisco - 12
Seattle - 9
Boston - 6
Dallas - 9
100% of the consumers in the study have been using their HD receiver(s) for six months or less.
The following chart shows the responses to the question: "How satisfied are you with your HD radio experience?"
62% of respondents indicated they were "Very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with their HD radio experience, while only 23% said they were "Somewhat Dissatisfied" or "Not satisfied at all" with their HD experience.
We asked the 23% who indicated they were dissatisfied, why they felt that way. The following chart indicates their responses:
Reception was the largest factor leading to dissatisfaction among this group with "on-air quality not as advertised" coming in second. Further explanation of these responses showed that reception was perceived as "receiving the station's signal poorly at times" and "on-air quality" was described as the "technical clarity of the programming".
"Low quality programming" is related to "manner in which the programming offerings are presented" and "Lack of Program Variety" refers to the number of different types of programs offered.
Overall, positives outweigh the negatives in this first-ever study of actual users of the HD radio receivers and the programming initially being offered by broadcasters, however positive response is not as high as one might expect based on the marketing of HD radio. More detailed perceptions of the HD programming in this study is proprietary and only available to Bridge Ratings clients.