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Real road to re-brand recovery

The former Century stations are showing signs of being on the road to recovery after re-branding as Real Radio in April 2009.

Across the board, Real has stayed at a steady 2.2million listeners a week and added 1.1 million hours quarter-on-quarter, a strong indication that audiences like what they hear from the brand. The new survey also reveals one in six of their listeners listen via a digital platform.

Reach in the Northwest has climbed 24,000 to a new figure of 474,000 and average hours have increased to 9.6; improving on their former record for the station under both the Century and Real brand.

Real Radio Northeast has remained fairly level with reach dropping by just 1,000 listeners to a new figure of 308,000. Average hours have climbed to 6.5 – but they are still a long way from their December 2008 figure of 459,000 in reach and 7.3 average hours.

Performances at the other Reals have been mixed with Real Radio Scotland recording its lowest reach since March 2005 at 670,000 listeners. However, they have enjoyed a one-hour increase in average hours.

Real Radio in South Wales have had a steady book with average hours staying the same and reach declining slightly to 419,000 after the previous quarters record reach of 427,000.

In Yorkshire, they have had their lowest ever audience with 293,000 listeners – but have again seen promising results with their average hours climbing from 8.7 to 10.3 in the new survey.

Meanwhile, the capital still doesn’t unwind to the soulful sounds of Smooth.

The station has lost 169,000 listeners in the last quarter – and now has 414,000 listeners in the capital and a 1.4 percent share in it’s TSA. Average hours have remained comparatively stable at 6.7, down from 6.8 in the September 2009 survey.

Across the Smooth Network, 2.7m listeners are tuning in each week for a total of 21.3m hours – and interestingly, almost a quarter (24.8 per cent) of Smooth listeners tune in digitally. The station is the only GMG brand to feature on Freeview, in addition to DAB, Sky, online and other digital platforms.

Figures at individual stations vary but Smooth Northwest still sits strong at the top of the pile, with an audience of 664,000 and steady average hours helping them retain the crown as the number one commercial station in the Northwest.

The Midlands stations have added almost added almost half a million extra hours between them, with reach in the East climbing to 292,000 and falling in the West to 376,000.

Smooth Radio Glasgow has had an increase in reach to 215,000 but average hours have dropped from 9.0 to 6.9 in the latest survey. Smooth Radio Northeast, the only station to actually launch under the brand, has taken a hit in both reach and hours so now claims 298,000 listeners and 6.9 average hours.

Rock Radio, sister brand to Real and Smooth Radio, has remained steady in terms of reach for both of the FM stations but hours have fallen. In Scotland they now average at 4.8 hours after recording 8.3 in the previous survey, while in Manchester they are down from 9.6 to 7.6. Over the course of the latest survey, Rock has had a number of line-up changes and networking was introduced for all but breakfast and drive.

GMG Radio Chief Executive, Stuart Taylor, said: “Where there are many calls on the consumers time and their ears, our brands continue to attract considerable audiences and increasing affection … We are well placed for the digital future with healthy proportions of our Real and Smooth audiences tuning in via DAB, digital TV and the internet.”

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