We’re only just into 2023 and the radio audience listening figures for the last quarter of 2022 are in.

These results show us increases from the larger networked station groups and from the independent station owners leading the charge with focused formats.

The Best of Both Worlds

This is great news for advertisers.  It means they can reach varied audiences in a trusted environment at scale through the station networks, and the regional and local flexibility these station networks offer. The rise of digital-only derivatives of main station brands such as Heart 80s/Absolute Country, and innovation from independent owners like Boom Radio, offers routes to reach audiences through new formats.  

Network Highlights

The Bauer-owned networks Hits Radio and Greatest Hits Radio increased reach to 6.637m (+17%) and 4.368m (+29%). These are significant numbers: Bauer is growing the Hits and Greatest Hits Networks through branding additional stations it owns, and of course investing in programming formats and talent.

Greatest Hits Radio hit the headlines in January when it announced that Ken Bruce would be leaving Radio 2 to join them – he’s the latest in a long list of BBC Radio talent moving to Commercial Radio.

The largest network on the block is the Heart Network from Global Radio, which now reaches 8.655m listeners a week (up 1.3% from this time last year). The other Global-owned network, Smooth Radio, also increased its audience to 5.828m (an increase of 7.4%). 

Elsewhere, the Wireless Group scored with their talkSPORT Network, which now delivers an audience of 3.146m (an increase of 1.6%).

Shining Example

We highlighted Boom Radio in our last RAJAR report, and we’re going to do it again.  Boom Radio is a shining example of how to enter the commercial radio sector, and shows that the independents can compete with the large groups and carve out a niche market. Boom Radio’s focus is on the 60+ market, and from launch in February 2021 it now has an audience of 531,000, growing by 128% Year on Year.

Total Market

This all helped the commercial radio sector increase audience as a whole.  Commercial radio now reaches 38.08m (68%) of adults each week, is an increase of 5.5%.

Digital Audio

The shift to digital listening continues, and digital share of listening is 66.6% (up 3.4% Year on Year). A closer look shows that online listening (that’s listening via websites, apps and smart speakers) is taking an increased share – up 43% from last year. This means that people are spending more time listening to radio stations via these devices, and as smart speakers and connected cars become more common and new digital online-only services come to market, this share will only increase.

There’s never been a better time to get involved with the audio medium.  It offers so many attributes for advertisers and budgets of all sizes. To find out more about how radio and digital audio can help your business or clients, get in touch.

National StationsReach 000sYear on Year %National NetworksReach 000sYear on Year %London StationsReach 000sYear on Year %
Classic FM4,970-1.8Heart Network UK8,6551.3Heart1,807-3.6
talkSPORT2,9463.5Hits Radio Network6,63717Capital1,631-3.5
Magic2,895-11Capital Network UK5,914-6.8LBC 97.31,445-0.5
Kiss2,438-12.1Smooth Radio Network UK5,8287.4Magic1,311-9.6
Absolute Radio2,125-4.7Greatest Radio Hits Network4,36829Greatest Hits Radio93714.5

Sources: RAJAR Q4 2022.  Reach numbers are weekly adults 15+

We’ll be back on Thursday 18th May 2023 with the Q1 2023 results.


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