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We live and work in exciting times - revolutionary times. Technology continues to recast the media industry.

The extraordinary advance of affordable personal digital technology and the stellar rise of social networks are both distrupting and transforming the media market making this a unique moment to be involved in the convergence sectors we focus on.

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Thursday, 23 October 2008

Is DAB the new Betamax?

We take a broader view of media than just the traditional inky papers, and Digital Radio is in an interesting place at the moment.

Launched to a fanfare of digital trumpets, DAB heralded a brave new world of commercial digital broadcasting, where content would be king and consumers would have a wealth of radio pleasure at their fingertips, in crackle free high definition clarity.

Well, that was the thinking anyway. Media companies saw an opportunity to take the analogue advertising funded model and place it on a digital spectrum, drive up their audiences through a technologically better offer, and watch the money roll in.

Only, it's not happened. At all. With Channel 4 pulling out of their digital radio consortium at a cost of a rumoured £10m, along with the bloodbath in the advertising market predicted for 2009, where does that leave digital radio?

Let's pause for a moment and look at this from the consumer perspective. Cost of technology has come down, but it's still £50+ for a DAB radio. The signal is clear, but actually not as good as promised, and the time lag means that you need a house full of DAB radios to move from room to room without having a problem with FM synching. You do get a nice display on your radio though, which tells you which station you are listening to. We had this at home in the 1970s though, it was a little sticker which you placed on the front of the radio on the FM frequency it applied to. Not digital, but just as effective.

The controversial (though obvious) prediction for the future of DAB is that there isn't one. It'll go the way of Betamax, the Sinclair C5 and the Sega Dreamcast, replaced by better technology which consumers actually want. The future is a combined FM, DAB and internet radio, giving the consumer access to internet radio broadcasting from around all the world.

I have an internet radio, it works off the home wifi, and I can pick any country in the world, and any genre of station, literally tens of thousands of stations at my fingertips 24 hours a day. Venezualan Jazz? Not a problem. Talk radio in New Zealand? Choice of 3 (though all of them are awful and remind why I was happy my relatives decide to emigrate there). As an aside, not quite sure how a local New Zealand radio station can commercialise my "ears" and charge advertisers, but I'm sure it's on their to-do list as I type.

DAB is dead. Spread the word, the internet has claimed its next victim.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting you should mention Sega's Dreamcast, the last console Sega made, and one of the reasons the company, as it was in the days of Mega-drive etc, was sold off.
Perhaps the companies who have invested much in DAB, I think of 'Pure' specifically. I had never heard of them prior to the introduction of DAD.
The cost of DAB was a huge factor I think in their demise. Much like ITV digital before it, waste of time and money, and people would not pay when there is a viable and much cheaper option that offers more, both in value and content.