Commercial Radio Takes The Lion’s Share
Commercial Radio has beaten BBC Radio on share of listening for the first time since 1999
October 28, 2021
The last time we reported on the RAJAR results was the 14th of May 2020, commenting on the Q1 2020 figures. Since then, RAJAR research had been suspended in March 2020 as it’s a diary-based survey and relies on face-to-face communication for diary collection. Even now, this Q3 21 survey (which covers the period 28th June to 19 September 2021) is a hybrid version of the normal study and comprises a mix of the diary figures, an online survey, an app which matches listening to a station, and previous RAJAR data. We normally compare data on a year-on-year basis, but given this is going back 2 years to Q3 19 and in light of the mixed data for this RAJAR, we will refer to Q1 2020 in some cases and look at these numbers in isolation with narrative.
Over the last 18 months we’ve seen several media owner and snapshot surveys from the radio industry body Radiocentre which indicated there had been an uptick in radio listening as a result of lockdown, and these RAJAR results confirm that this trend continues… commercial radio has recorded its largest ever audience, reaching 36.806m adults a week – 66% of the population.
One station that has been looking forward to the RAJAR numbers is Times Radio from the Wireless Group / News UK stable. Times Radio launched on Monday 29th June 2020, and this is our first indication of its audience performance. It’s been a good one too, with the station reaching 637,000 listeners.
Part of the reasoning behind the launch of Times Radio was the significant audience growth over the last few years of speech radio and news services, and our continuing thirst for news. Being a trusted source of news is radio’s bread and butter, and we know from the Radiocentre Breaking News Report that radio is the most trusted source for national news. LBC now reaches 2.568m nationally, up 5% from last reported Q1 20 number, and in London the LBC Nick Ferrari Breakfast Show has claimed top spot with a reach of 837,000. The other news station in the market is talkRADIO, a sister station to Times Radio, which now has 450,000 adult listeners, up 6.1% on Q1 2020.
Another new station debuting in this RAJAR is Boom Radio. Boom launched on 14th February 2021 and is an independent station founded by an ex-Orion Radio and Chrysalis management team. Boom broadcasts on regional DAB and online and targets the baby boomer 55 -75yrs audience, and has done well with a figure of 233,000.
Keeping ourselves entertained and happy through the trials and tribulations of the last 18 months has meant that good mood music stations have also come out well in this survey… The major station branded networks have fared particularly well; the Global owned Heart Network broke the 10 million barrier with 10.027m listeners, and the Capital Branded Network now has a reach of 7.627m. The Bauer Hits Network has added stations to its portfolio over the last 18 months and now reaches 8.711m listeners a week.
News UK got the cheque book out again after poaching Chris Evans from the BBC and signed Graham Norton to host the Virgin Radio mid-morning weekend show on the 9th January 21. When Evans joined, he turbocharged audience growth for Virgin, and it continues with these results as the station now has a weekly reach of 1.631m up 9 %. This big talent approach is an expensive strategy and, as well these top signings, Virgin have regularly run multimedia ad campaigns across the last year or so.
Digital share of listening is now 65.8% – the highest recorded figure – as our listening migrates to digital platforms. The largest growth came from online and apps, which includes smart speakers, and this increase has been driven the fact that more people are listening at home.
All being well we will be back on Thursday 3rd February 2022 with the Q4 2021 results…
|National Stations||Reach 000s||National Networks||Reach 000s||London Stations||Reach 000s|
|Classic FM||5,077||Heart Network UK||8,496||Heart||1,916|
|Magic||3,450||Capital Network UK||6,528||Capital||1,786|
|Kiss||2,771||Hits Radio Network||6,155||Magic||1,596|
|talkSPORT||2,740||Smooth Radio Network UK||5,474||LBC 97.3||1,564|
|Absolute Radio||2,583||Kiss Network||4,741||Kiss||1,069|
Sources: RAJAR Q3 2021. All comparisons are as stated and reach numbers are weekly adults 15+