Q3/11 radio listening: The ups and downs

The latest RAJAR figures show 47.1m people listened to radio in the UK in the last three months – an increase from this time last year but a drop compared with Quarter 2 of 2011.

In London Capital FM (2.179m reach) has regained the number one commercial radio spot, with Global Radio’s Heart brand (2.027m) also overtaking Magic to take second place. Magic (1.993m) is third, with Bauer sister station Kiss (1.703m) in fourth place.


Mixed results for Global though in the capital, as XFM is the worst performing commercial radio station over the year, losing 19.4% of its audience in 12 months to give a reach of just 435,000 – leaving it now below both Smooth and Choice. Global’s urban music station added 17% to its audience over the year to give a new reach of 562,000 in Q3/2011.

Nationally Radio 2 remains the biggest UK radio station, hitting 14m in a quarter 3 period for the first time and increasing its audience size by 4.6% year on year. Radio 1 and Radio 4 also increased their reach, but there were drops for Radio 3 (down 4.3%) and 5 Live (down 0.9%).

Digital stations Absolute 80s and Absolute 90s saw major growth with audience sizes up 80% over the last year. Absolute’s total audience across all stations is down 3% in 12 months, while Classic FM has lost 5%. talkSPORT’s reach is up 5.8% nationally, although in London it’s down 15%.

90.7% of the 15+ population listened to radio during the three months to the end of September – it’s a year-on-year increase for the medium but a slight drop compared with the previous quarter. Total listening hours are up year on year to 1,076m hours per week (compared with 1,055m in Q3/10) but remain the same as the last set of figures which were out in August.

In terms of the share between the BBC and commercial radio, the split is now 54.5% BBC, 43.3% Commercial. There have been quarter-on-quarter share increases for BBC Network radio and Local Commercial radio, while BBC Local and National Commercial’s share have fallen slightly.

Listening hours to digital radio are up 14% in a year to 28.2%. This accounts for more than 300m hours for the first time – up from 262m in Q3/10. 29.3% of the BBC’s listening is done via digital platforms, while in commercial radio that figure is 26.8. As has always been the case, commercial radio outperforms the BBC for listening via digital television.

48.4% of listeners do some digital platform listening each week, while DAB accounts for 18% of listening – that’s up from just over 15% this time last year. In addition we’re told that two in five people now live in a house with a DAB radio.

Ford Ennals, Chief Executive of Digital Radio UK, said: “Quarter 3 has shown more evidence of the irresistible momentum behind digital listening. DAB hours are up 20% and online hours are up 32% year on year, and these are the two strategic growth platforms for the future of digital radio in the UK. With the increases in coverage and availability in cars, the remarkable progress of Radioplayer and with a major communications campaign about to start, we would expect digital radio listening to accelerate towards 30%.”

RadioCentre, which represents commercial radio operators, says that the impact of online listening platform , which launched in April is clear to see, with 10.4% of the population now tuning into their favourite stations via the internet every week. Its Chief Executive, Andrew Harrison said: “There is no doubt that the unique musical and editorial offerings from commercial radio stations continue to have a resonance with our listeners. It is increasingly clear that this content can be delivered successfully in a multitude of different ways and platforms. Whether stations are part of a national brand or local proposition, audiences know that if you want music, entertainment and information, you should tune in to a commercial station.”

Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at 12:00 am by RadioToday UK

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