Last week (9/4-7), I did a new study on HD Radio as a follow-up to my 2006 survey. Here’s what we learned, based on 688 telephone interviews with 18-64’s in the U.S…

  • 67% of 18-64 year olds have heard of HD Radio. This represents a dramatic increase from ’06, when only 38% had heard of HD Radio.
  • Consumers’ understanding of HD Radio has also grown. Now, 21% indicate HD Radio delivers higher quality sound, versus 17% in 2006. Eight percent now volunteer that HD Radio delivers more stations or choices, versus only 1% two years ago.
  • We also find continued misconceptions about HD Radio. Now, 7% indicate that HD radio is satellite radio, up from 3% in 2006. And 3% think they receive HD Radio even though they have not purchased an HD-capable receiver.
  • 18-44’s, men (and, especially, 18-44 men) have the highest awareness and best understanding of HD Radio. But we do not find major demographic differences on these measures.

The “bottom line” is: HD Radio has made significant progress over the past two years. The biggest jump is in the percentage of consumers who have at least heard of HD Radio.

Of course, now, as in ’06, not everyone who claims they’ve heard of HD Radio truly “gets it.” Nine percent tell us they’ve just heard of HD Radio and don’t know anything about it. And, no doubt, some of those who say that HD Radio means “higher quality sound” are simply inferring that from their knowledge of HDTV.

Still, the increase in awareness is so dramatic that it’s clear HD Radio is “on the map” in a way it wasn’t two years ago.

Also highly significant: the growth in consumers who tell us HD Radio means “more stations.” These are people who undoubtedly get it. The good news is that there are now more of them — 8% versus just 1% two years ago. But they still represent a “small sliver” of the population.

The consumers who confuse HD Radio with XM or Sirius is a similarly-small group. But they’re joined by another 2% who thing HD Radio is something you subscribe to. And then there are the folks who think they’re getting HD even though they don’t have an HD radio…seriously confused!

So, the industry still has a long way to go educating consumers about HD Radio. But at least most have heard of it, and that’s movement in the right direction.