Consumer acceptance of HD Radio may have had a slow start, but that seems to be improving, according to a new study of digital radio by ABI Research. By the end of this year, ABI is forecasting that there will be about 4 million digital radios in the marketplace, up from the current 3 million.

By 2015, there could be as many as 64 million, with 26 million in-car radios and 37 million in smart phones.

There are several reasons for the uptick, including the availability this year of portable and home HD Radio receivers, and the move to put digital receivers in smart phones, a move that could lighten bandwidth issues.

"Digital radio technologies, including satellite radio and Internet radio, are expected to reverse trends of decreasing listenership," said Sam Rosen, senior analyst for ABI Research.
"Listeners will have access to niche programming targeted to narrower demographic segments and will respond to a more interactive user experience enabled by program guides and other enhancements. Broadcasters, in turn, will have a larger reach and the ability to provide better targeted and more interactive ads."

In Europe, led by the U.K., digital radios in the market have already reached 13.5 million mark, on the way to nearly 200 million units by 2015.