RAJAR Q2 2017: Record reach commercial radio

Commercial radio has posted its highest ever total audience of almost 35.9 million people in Q2 2017 surpassing the previous record of 35.6 million set in Q2 2016.

Total digital listening is also up, it now stands at 48.7%, up from 45.3% in Q2 2016. 1.5m additional adults are now listening via a digital platform, compared to Q2 2016, taking digital reach to 33 million people and for the first time over 60% of the population at 61.2%.

Commercial radio also extended its lead over the BBC in terms of total listeners. Total audience for commercial radio was 35.881 million compared to 34.945 million for BBC Radio – a difference of almost one million listeners (936,000). This compares to a lead of half a million (506,000) the same time last year.

However, the BBC retains a higher share of hours at 52.3% (compared to 52.2% in Q2 2016) with commercial radio share remaining broadly flat at 45% (from 45.2% in Q2 2016).

Siobhan Kenny, CEO of Radiocentre says: “This set of figures is encouraging for everyone working in the UK radio industry and it is cheering to see our medium going from strength to strength. It is particularly pleasing to see the investment in digital is paying off and that we are attracting new audiences”.

Digital listening across all platforms continues to grow, with the fastest growing now being online/apps which grew by 9.1%in hours to account for 8.8% share of all radio listening and 18% of digital listening, as radio listening via voice-controlled and smart speakers becomes increasingly popular. The majority of digital listening remains via DAB digital radio which grew 6.1% in hours to account for 34.5% share of all radio listening or 71% of digital listening. Listening via digital television grew 4% in hours to account for 5.4% share of all listening and for 11.1% of digital listening.

Digital listening across 10-64 years olds combined is already above 50% at 50.8%, and there are now four age groups with a digital share of over 50% (10-14; 15-24s; 35-44s; 45- 54s year olds).

The most popular digital-only station is BBC 6 Music which recorded a weekly reach of 2.23 million listeners, followed by BBC Radio 4 Extra with a weekly reach of 2.09 million listeners. Kisstory is the most popular commercial digital-only stations with a record reach of 1.73 million listeners, with Absolute 80s taking the second spot with a weekly reach of 1.51 million listeners. The love of 80s music propelled new national digital-only station, Heart 80s, to the fourth most popular commercial digital-only station in the station’s RAJAR debut, with 852,000 listeners.

Digital listening across commercial and BBC radio is approaching 50% and both have grown digital listening share to 49.4% and 48% respectively. Digital listening has grown across both national and local stations, with national digital listening hours increasing to 57.3%, and local digital listening hours to 33.5%.

National commercial digital listening hours continue to grow increasing by 9.8% year-on-year to account for over three quarters (75.4%) share of all national commercial listening, while BBC national digital listening hours grew by 5.8% to account for 50.7% platform share.

In car digital listening hours have grown by 20% year on year and have reached a new record share of 29.7%, supported by over 700,000 new cars on UK roads with DAB digital radio as standard in Q1 2017 alone (Q1 2016 CAP/SMMT). Digital listening in cars has contributed to 38% of all digital listening hourly growth.

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: “The new RAJAR data confirms that digital radio’s momentum is unstoppable with close to 50% of all listening now being on a digital platform. We see this digital growth right across the board – commercial radio and BBC, national and local and across all digital platforms. Digital radio is truly the engine for growth for UK radio and we continue to see great performances from new digital stations.”

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