Here we take an in-depth look around the commercial radio groups outside London, and the BBC Local Radio network across England to see how stations performed in the Q4 2016 RAJAR figures when compared the same period a year earlier.
The network of BBC Local Radio stations in England grew its audience over the 12 months by 122,000. The stations now reach 6.552m people (up from 6.43m in Q4 2015). There were good gains at BBC Three Counties Radio (up 32,000 year on year); BBC Radio Devon (up 39,000); BBC Radio Leicester (up 45,000) and BBC Radio Manchester. Radio Manchester’s audience has risen 59,000 during 2016, giving it a reach of 266k – its highest in more than a decade. The station’s Managing Editor, Kate Squire, said: “We are all delighted. New listeners are discovering us all the time and loving what they hear. They’re cheered up, they get involved and everything we talk about is relevant to people’s lives in Greater Manchester. We’re the home of Mike Sweeney, and a brilliant line up of presenters, plus we play some terrific tunes.”
Not as good news for BBC Radio London though, which has shed 166,000 listeners year on year. There were also falls in listening for BBC Radio Leeds (down 34,000 year on year); BBC Radio Norfolk (down 26,000) and BBC Coventry & Warwickshire (down 21,000).
There were mixed results for the BBC Nations radio stations serving Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. BBC Radio Scotland added 9,000 listeners in the year to give a reach of 952k. BBC Radio Ulster dropped 17k to 521k; and BBC Radio Wales lost 34,000 listeners year on year to give it a new reach of 375k. Welsh language service Radio Cymru added 6,000 new listeners, resulting in a weekly reach in Q4 2016 of 114k.
Bauer says its City Network now has a total reach of 6.9m listeners. Liverpool was a good market for Bauer in this RAJAR release, with Radio City up 27,000 year on year (7.6%). Radio City 2’s reach rose 89k during 2016 following the oldies service’s move from AM to FM, while City Talk lost nearly half its audience by moving off the FM frequency (down 29k year on year from 59,000 to 30,000 weekly listeners).
In South Yorkshire, 2016 was a good year for both Hallam FM and Hallam 2 which both saw increases in reach. Rock FM 2 had a good Q4 2016 seeing its audience rise 22k year on year, while TFM 2’s audience has almost doubled in a year from 33k to 63k. Not as good in Hull where both Viking FM and Viking 2 are down over the 12 months.
Notable audience changes in Scotland include Forth 1 losing 38,000 listeners year on year (now 320k reach); Clyde 1 adding 40,000 (now 624k), Clyde 2 losing 24k and both Northsound 1 and Northsound 2 losing audience. Northsound 2’s reach is down more than a third in the space of a year – from 33,000 to 21,000.
Not great results in Q4 2016 for the former Orion stations. Free Radio Birmingham lost 52,000 of its 401,000 from this time last year, giving a new reach of 349k per week. The other Free Radio FM services were all down too (Coventry down 33k year on year; Hereford & Worcester down 20k and Shropshire down 14k). Gem 106 also dropped 18,000 listeners to leave a new weekly reach of 478,000.
There’s some outstanding news for Wave 105 though on the South Coast, which is up 60,000 year on year – from 382k and 21% reach this time last year to now being at 442k (24%). That’s an increase of 15.7% year on year.
The year-on-year decline for Kiss in London was replicated in the two regions where it operates FM transmitters, with a fall in reach of 13k in East Anglia and 26k in the West of England. Absolute Radio’s London decline was offset by growth in West Midlands where it broadcasts on FM (former Kerrang/Planet Rock licence) and saw reach up 45,000 year on year.
Around Global‘s regional and local services, Q4 2016 saw good performances for Capital in the East Midlands (up 52k year on year), Liverpool (up 37k), Manchester (up 32k) and Yorkshire (up 105k over the year, giving a reach now of 1.092m). The audience decline in London (347k listeners a week have left in the last 12 months) also happened in the North East (down 23k) and Scotland (down 27k).
Heart did well in 2016 in the North West, adding 40,000 weekly listeners over the year. But audiences were down 50k in East Anglia, 35k in South Wales, 34k in the West Midlands and 41k in the Thames Valley. In London, Heart has lost 442,000 in the last 12 months.
Smooth‘s AM and DAB services in the West Country and Cambridgeshire were the pick of the bunch for best annual increases in audience, with the best regional performances for Smooth coming in the North East and North West (both run by CommunicorpUK under the brand licence agreement).
Among Communicorp‘s portfolio, there were strong performances for Capital South Wales, Heart Yorkshire, Smooth North East, Smooth North West and XS Manchester. XS is up 17k over the year to a reach of 128,000 following its rebrand from Real XS. Communicorp’s Capital Scotland, Heart North Wales and Smooth East Midlands each lost audience, but the group overall has added an impressive 118,000 listeners during 2016.
For News Corp there were mixed results in the local radio division, which a year ago was still called UTV. Signal Two added the most listeners of any of the group’s stations in the year – an extra 17,000 to give a reach of 71k. Pulse 1 in Bradford added 10k (now 120k reach). But there were drops at The Wave in Swansea (down 30k to 119k), Wish FM in Wigan (down 25k to 68k) and U105 in Belfast (down 27k).
At UKRD, the total group audience is down 48,000 year on year to 892k. Minster FM and Sun FM lost 13k and 11k respectively. Spire FM was the star performer for the group in 2016, adding 12k weekly listeners – it now has a 51,000 reach (43% of the TSA). Pirate at 159k remains the biggest station in the group, even though it lost 6,000 listeners in 2016. KL.FM recorded its highest reach at 36% and share at 17.7%.
The Anglian Radio Group ended its final year before the takeover by Celador with a drop of 15,000 listeners across the stations. 11,000 were lost from Town 102 in Ipswich. New owner Celador also saw a decline in audiences in 2016 of 49,000. The group now reaches 567,000 people weekly. Reach fell at Sam FM in both Bristol and on the South Coast, plus at The Breeze in Cheltenham and in South Devon (formerly Palm FM).
The Lincs FM Group‘s total audience across its portfolio is down 41,000 year on year to 575,000. Lincs FM 102.2 was the only station in the group to increase its audience in the 12 months – up 11k to 328,000. There were declines of 20k at KCFM and 10k at Ridings FM.
Quidem‘s total reach is now 111,000 a week, down 29k year on year. The only station to add listeners was 102 Touch FM Warwickshire which added a thousand.
Tindle‘s Channel 103 and Island FM are still flying high on percentage reach – Channel has 63% and Island 64%. Combined they have 89,000 listeners a week – up 11k year on year.
At Jack in Oxford, 106 Jack FM now reaches 89,000 listeners (up 7k year on year), while Jack 2 was up 5k to 64k. This gives Oxis Media a combined reach in Oxfordshire of 130,000 – its highest ever. The station says Jack now has 18,000 more listeners than Heart in the county. Tim Parker – JACK’s Programme Director told us: “Well, clearly it is no fluke! JACK number one again. Strong results from an incredible team here at the Dumpy Building. We have such a great time producing the programmes we broadcast. It’s so nice to have more and more listeners playing along with the JACK brand when all around us at other radio stations listener involvement is on the decline.”
Q4 2016 sees the first figures for YOUR Radio in Dunbartonshire. It reaches 24,000 listeners (11%). Managing Director Spencer Pryor told RadioToday: “This is a good solid start to our RAJAR adventure and we will build these figures over the coming years as listeners see that we offer something different to liner card led broadcasting. RAJAR is important to YOUR Radio in that it moves us from being perceived as a ‘community’ type station to a commercial station.”
And over the last 12 months, Radio Yorkshire‘s transmission area has shrunk due to changes in the DAB multiplex it operates on. It now reaches 39,000 people a week in an area with a population of 2.6m. A year ago it had 52,000 listeners in a 4.5m TSA.
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