GMG: Smooth grows to new high

GMG’s Smooth Radio went national last quarter, a move that has seen its audience grow by nearly 15 percent in 2010 to a record high of 3.08 million listeners per week.

Sister brand Real Radio had mixed fortunes in this RAJAR book, with improving reaches in Yorkshire and Wales but poor performances in Scotland and the North West of England.

Smooth has dropped from second to third behind Classic FM and talkSPORT in terms of the UK’s biggest national commercial stations, mainly down to a surge from the sports station (we’re excluding Capital from that list, since it hadn’t gone national in Q4/10). But along with the increase in audience, Smooth added more than 2.5 million extra listening hours year-on-year to hit nearly 24 million a week.

Real’s total audience across the UK has fallen slightly to 2.35m, despite good rises in Wales and Yorkshire. Hours for the network are down by more than 2 million in a year. Traditionally the better performers, it was the Real stations in Scotland and the North West posting books to forget this quarter. Scotland’s reach of 622,000 is the lowest in the last five years or so and a fall of 50,000 listeners a week in the space of a year. In the North West whether you look at reach, share or hours, they’re all down – even comparing quarter-on-quarter or year-on-year there are few positives to be found.

Real Radio Wales hit its highest ever reach of 481,000, although hours and share dipped, and Real Radio Yorkshire’s 317,000 weekly audience is the best for two and a half years. In the North East, hours are up but the reach is about the same as previously.

96.3 Rock Radio in Glasgow posted its best ever reach since the re-brand from Q96, while Manchester’s 106.1 Rock Radio lost hours but maintained a reach of 122,000.

In total, GMG Radio reaches just over 5.2 million adults a week across their three brands, with 27 percent of Smooth listening via digital platforms, compared with 19.3 percent of Real’s.

GMG Radio Chief Executive Stuart Taylor said: “The Smooth Radio figures are highly encouraging with increases in reach, hours and market share. So we’re looking forward to receiving our first pure set of Smooth Radio UK results, incorporating the new Simon Bates breakfast show for Q1 in May.”

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