The Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) has reported that household penetration of DAB digital radio in the UK is set to reach 58.5% by the end of 2011.

The DRDB's new 5-year forecast puts the figures at 21% by the end of 2007, and 30% by the end of 2008, rising to 40% in 2009, 50% in 2010, and 58.5% by the end of 2011.

DAB radio sales are expected to realise 17% growth in 2007, with more than two million units sold at a value of £170 million. The predictions see rises to 26% in 2008 with 2.6 million units sold at a value of £200 million.

Findings from Rajar, Ofcom, BBC and RadioCentre apparently suggest that the "traditional" face of radio listening is changing.

The overall radio set sales market (both analogue and DAB) such as boomboxes, audio systems and personals, is in decline, while others, such as MP3 players and docking stations (with radio included) are on the rise.

Ian Dickens, DRDB chief executive, said: "Already we are starting to see DAB digital radio appear in some of these new form factors, and while it is important to continue to see successful growth in traditional radio products, DAB’s longer-term future lies in the penetration of these new products, along with in-car and mobile phones. Over the coming months, the DRDB will be changing its shape and focus to ensure that radio moves swiftly down this road".

By the end of 2007, there will be around 6.6 million DAB radios in UK homes and a household penetration of 21%. These numbers, and the forecast released today, are important indicators for Ofcom, which is currently considering a plan for analogue radio switch-off.

Listening to DAB digital radio is growing fast. The latest Rajar report (Q2 07) proved that DAB is rapidly moving from a fringe listening platform of under a million listeners in 2003, to a mass market proposition with 6.1 million listeners in 2007.

The same report showed that over 20% of adults live in a DAB household and 74 million hours a week are spent listening to DAB digital radio. Eight new national DAB services from 4 Digital Group are expected to launch in 2008, along with a dozen new local and regional multiplexes.