Written by Radio

RAJAR Q3 2013

In some ways, this quarter’s RAJAR results are a little disappointing – certainly if you’re comparing results with the previous quarter. But then this is a third quarter result, and RAJAR always dips a little during those periods with listening patterns changing in the summer months.

Commercial radio has closed the gap a little with the BBC, although the gap is still nearly 10%, with the BBC having 53.4% of listening compared with commercial radio’s 43.9%.

Digital listening has actually shown a dip this quarter, falling to 35.6%. But before anyone’s too fast on their keyboards in reporting the downfall of digital radio, it’s also likely to be a seasonal factor with listening falling in Q3 2012 too.

In terms of individual performances, one of the stronger results comes from LBC. Hot off celebrating their 40th birthday, they’ve also recorded their highest ever reach for the second quarter in a row – 1.1m listeners.

Nationally, everyone breathes a little easier as Radio loses over half a million listeners on the previous quarter. But that represents just 3.3% of their audience! Radio 1 has also experienced a modest fall, notably at breakfast where Nick Grimshaw is over 300,000 off last quarter and 1.1m off last year’s figures. Annoyingly for them, the average age of that show is still 34 and it just hasn’t really shifted. My figures, like all of the figures on this page, are based on 15+. RAJAR measures from 10+ and using that base would lower the average a little to 32. [Note – corrected Nick Grimshaw’s decline]

This is the first quarter that the new Kiss digital brands are being reported. Kiss Fresh takes over from Smash Hits, although it saw a 5% fall in reach in the quarter. Meanwhile, Q was retired as a station and Kisstory was launched. It’s first reach was just short of Kiss Fresh’s with 854,000 and a pretty decent 3.3m hours.

Meanwhile, this was the final quarter of the Choice brand before it re-branded as Capital Xtra. And although it fell in London, it of course went out with its best numbers for years – and probably ever – with a national reach of 839,000 and 4.3m hours. A benchmark for Capital Xtra next quarter, although the new station will be getting national coverage.

That also means it’s the last ever Smooth 70s result. The station did well over it’s short life, and, you guessed it, went out with its best ever reach figures: 771,000. In fairness, it’d had higher hours in the past. Global will of course be able to monetise Capital Xtra much better than either Choice or Smooth 70s, so even if the new station comes in with lower RAJAR, that doesn’t mean that it’ll be less valuable to the business.

What else is there to add? Classic FM had a disappointing quarter with drops in reach and hours, while Talksport saw an increase in hours but a fall in reach. A non-football summer would always be quiet for them, and only a couple of the Lions’ Tests falling into this period.

BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra had its best ever RAJAR figures in an Ashes summer. It increased its reach 61% in a single quarter, and now reaches 1.5m listeners. It should be noted that RAJAR doesn’t break out Radio 4 LW separately, so it’s a bit more complex to work out an overall cricket audience.

Absolute 80s recorded its best ever audience, and cemented its position as the biggest commercial digital station. It has a weekly reach of 1.2m, up 3.2% on the previous quarter. Absolute Radio 90s also saw a record reach, as did Absolute Radio 60s.

Capital and Heart have done pretty decently nationally, with increases in reach. But Planet Rock had a very disappointing quarter. Incidentally, TeamRock doesn’t report RAJAR numbers. It’ll be interesting to see if their business model ever calls for using RAJAR.

In London, there was a few too many negative signs on my spreadsheets at work. Capital maintains it’s position as the biggest commercial station in London, but elsewhere at Global they’ll be disappointed with Heart’s performance, down nearly 10% in reach and 20% in hours on the previous quarter (although not as bad on the year). However its hours are now its lowest ever.

Absolute Radio in London is disappointing too, with a 26% fall in reach on the previous quarter and a 10% fall in hours.

Kiss too has had a disappointing quarter losing 9% of its hours. And we should probably mention BBC London which is maintaining reach but has the fewest hours the station has had since 2002.

Anyway, that’s the topline as far as I can see. There’s always more to dig into. For example, Absolute Radio has seen a massive increase in internet listening. Is that because of its InStream offering? Or is it a one-off figure? Where are all those Radio 1 hours going? Other stations or leaving the market altogether? These questions and more for another day.

In the meantime, I’ll finish with my regular bubble charts.

Again, you’re better off using the larger versions of the national and London (which will be slow to load) charts. But even if you don’t, here I recommend you do the following:

– Change the left hand (x) axis to male % reach
– Change the bottom (y) axis to average age
– Change the size to hours
– Use the play button at the bottom to see the changes in the London marketplace

But there are lots more things you can do – especially with the London charts. And read the notes on other pages for provisos.

National

London

Note: Some browsers or computers may struggle with the London chart. There’s an awful lot of data being loaded into it. So try waiting, refreshing or using a modern browser (e.g. Chrome) if you’re struggling. And it probably won’t work well on some mobile devices. Sorry.

For more on RAJAR visit:
The official RAJAR site
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
Media UK for lots of numbers and charts
One Golden Square for more Absolute Radio details
Paul Easton for analysis
Media Guardian for more news
Matt Deegan for more analysis
And there are always RAJAR Smilies
Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, period ending 15 September 2013, Adults 15+.
Disclaimer: These are my own views, although they’re based on work I’ve done for Absolute Radio, and through whom I get access to the data. I also sit on the RAJAR Technical Management Group representing commercial radio. Just so you know.