Once again, this post is brought to you in association with RALF from DP Software and Services. I’ve used RALF for the past 9 years, and it’s my favourite RAJAR analysis tool. So I continue to be delighted to be able to bring you this analysis in association with them. For more details on RALF, contact Deryck Pritchard via this link or phone 07545 425677.
All views here are clearly my own!
It’s not the biggest station in the world, or indeed in London, but everyone is going to be curious how it did. In Tuesday night’s Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards, Radio X won the marketing award for its launch campaign. I don’t know how much Global spent on the campaign, but it must have been a healthy seven digits, and if it was aimed at someone like me – well their targeting worked, as I saw it repeatedly.
But how has that transferred into listeners?
Last time around, we only had London numbers which weren’t extraordinary to be honest. But now we have a national picture.
In overall terms, you might consider that Radio X is doing OK. It has a reach of 1.24m and 8.8m hours. They’re both records compared with the previous Xfm figures nationally, although that should be set against Radio X getting a D1 DAB slot, meaning that it was fully national. Xfm had to make do with a number of local DAB multiplexes.
In overall terms, then a positive results. But in London, the picture is pretty poor. A reach of 337,000 represents the lowest reach figure the station has had since Q2 1999 – obviously then under its previous guise of Xfm. I don’t think there’s any way of spinning this – it’s a very poor result. Hours are not quite so bad, down on recent quarters but up on the previous year. But that reach is worrying for Global.
In Manchester, the other place where Radio X has FM transmission, reach was 179,000 which is the lowest its been since Q1 2014. Again, hours are stronger.
So something of a mixed picture for the service.
Elsewhere, if you’re waiting for news of the new channels that have launched recently on D2, then you have another three months to discover how TalkRadio, the new Virgin Radio, TalkSport 2 and the rest are doing.
The overall All Radio picture remains decent, with listening remaining over 1 billion hours. But the commercial share of radio has slipped back from 44.0% to 43.1% – the BBC’s share increasing from 53.5% to 54.1% in the last quarter.
Average hours per listener remain at 21.0 overall, the same as last quarter, but still at an all-time low.
And yes, if we look at 15-24s, the youngest age group that RAJAR reliably measures, there are some worrying records. Only 84% of this group listen to the radio (although it has been as low as 83%), but they listen for 95m hours – a new low – and spend an average 14 hours a week listening to the radio – also a new low.
There are some challenges here.
Let’s go through network by network
Radio 1 is unlikely to be happy with a quarter that saw its reach drop below 10m again. Reach is down 4.1% on the quarter, although 2.1% up on last year, to 9.907m. But the real story is in hours, where it has a new record low of 56,780,000. That’s down 8.3% on last quarter and down 12.9% on last year. Radio 1 listeners now listen for an average of 5.7 hours a week when once it was closer to 10.
Radio 2 had an excellent quarter with reach creeping up to 15.5m, while hours leapt to a new all-time record of 187m. Put another way, that’s 18.6% of all radio listening (aka market share). Its listeners spend 12.1 hours a week with the service.
Radio 3 has seen some of its best figures in quite a while, up 3.2% on the quarter and 1.6% on the year, it’s hours have grown even more. It now reaches 2.117m, its best result since 2013.
Radio 4 had a so-so quarter, with reach down 3.3% on the quarter and down 2.9% on the year. Hours were similarly down, but the station is listened to for 11.5 hours a week. (For what it’s worth, The Archers were down a little this quarter to 4.7m across its various Radio 4 outings!)
Five Live possibly benefited from an incredible Premier League season as Leicester never faltered. Its reach was up 3.4% on the quarter to 5.774m while hours were also up.
Absolute Radio followed up Tuesday night’s Station of the Year award with a very good set of results – the best since it rebranded from Virgin Radio in 2008. Reach was up 2.2% on the quarter and 9.3% on the year, with hours seeing even better improvements up 14.5% on the quarter and 8.4% on the year.
Classic FM has had a very poor quarter, down more than 7% in reach on both the quarter and the year, with even worse performances in hours, it has achieved its lowest reach and hours since the new methodology began in 1999, with 5.1m reach and 32.5m hours. However it’s worth remembering that Classic FM remains two and a half times the size of Radio 3.
TalkSport also seemed to benefit from the Premier League title run-in, with a modest quarter on quarter increase of 0.9%, but a larger increase in listening, up 2.1%.
The BBC World Service saw a small dip this quarter, down 2.7% in reach, but up 8.4% on the year. Listening hours are well up however.
Digital Listening is worth examining this quarter because RAJAR has removed – or rather, modelled out – unspecified platform listening. There was always previously a small rump of listeners who either didn’t know what platform they were listening to, or who just failed to record it.
What that means is that there have been a few jumps this quarter. Digital listening rises to 44.1% – inching ever closer to the majority of listening – although since this is a post-Christmas quarter and DAB sets get given as gifts, you might expect that to happen anyway. However that modelling does also mean that AM/FM listening rises slightly too.
And if you look within that digital listening this does also mean that Internet listening has reached a high of 7.8% of all listening.
And 63.7% of all radio listeners spend at least some of their time listening via digital platforms.
(Update: Since Phil Riley asked me, here is the position with AM/FM listening. 55.9% of listening is now AM/FM. This is up from last quarter when it was 50.7%, partially because of the modelling of unspecified listeners I mentioned above. However a good number of people still listen to at least some of their output in analogue. 75.4% of the population (or 84.5% of radio listeners) spend at least a little time on AM/FM. I would suspect that the car is a major place for this.)
6 Music has set new records – I feel like I’ve typed those words before. It’s reach is up 1.5% on the quarter (and 8.3% on the year) to 2.236m, a new record high. Listening hours are also up to a record high of 20,954,000. 6 Music listeners hear the station for 9.4 hours a week now.
Absolute 80s has had another massive quarter with its biggest ever reach of 1.72m up 9% on the quarter and 19% on the year. Hours are down a fraction however, and of course it has now moved off D1 to D2 – which means fewer people can listen to the service. It could well fall next quarter which would be a real shame.
Radio 4 Extra has slipped back a little this quarter from some recent highs. It’s not clear what’s happened, but it’s down 12.4% on the quarter and 14.8% on the year. It’s similarly down in listening hours.
LBC is obviously on FM in London, but available nationally digitally, and it has just had its best ever results with a reach of 1.54m (up 7.0% on the quarter), and 15.241m hours (up 8.1% on the quarter). It’ll be interesting t see what, if any, effect TalkRadio has on LBC next time around, but they’re clearly flying right now.
1Xtra crept up over the 1m reach again, while Kisstory had another good quarter, up a little to 1.441m. Capital Xtra was also up to a new high of 1.202m.
Absolute Radio 90s had its best ever reach of 681,000, while Absolute Radio 70s was down very slightly to 285,000.
Jazz FM – back on national DAB from next quarter’s results – had a steady quarter, up slightly in reach to 506,000 but down in hours.
And it’s always entertaining to see that The Hits is still reported. It has 693,000 listeners down nearly 15% on the quarter. I know it essentially delivers the Bauer City 3 network, but it’s not actually on any platforms aside from Freeview and the internet!
Networks and Groups
BBC Radio is basically flat on the quarter overall, with fractional changes. The same is true comparing year on year, with no change in reach, and a modest 1.7% fall in hours.
Global Radio (based on the stations they own rather than those they sell or the brands they licence), is very slightly down on the quarter (1.1% down in reach, 2.3% down in hours), but decently up on the year.
Bauer Radio (including Orion which they recently purchased, but for whom they’d been selling nationally previously) are up in reach (0.8%) but down in hours (-0.3%). Again it’s a better result on the year.
Finally, Wireless Group (previously known as UTV Radio until the sold the “TV” part of the business to ITV) saw some falls, down a fraction in reach on the quarter but down 2.7% in hours. On the year, the falls are more significant, down 6.9% in reach and 13.1% in hours. Obviously they have a host of new national services that’ll be included in next quarter’s results.
Looking more broadly at some of the networks, the Magic network increased a little to 3.434m ahead of its new services being added into the mix next quarter. Meanwhile the Smooth Network came down a little after last quarter’s record levels.
The Capital Brand achieved its highest ever reach of 8.162m up a little on last quarter. Hours are down a touch however. And the Heart Network was down a little off its record high to 9.014m, again ahead of its spin-off brand being included next quarter.
The Kiss Network performed very strongly – just short of the record it set six months ago.
Finally, the Absolute Radio Network was down a fraction on the quarter (down 0.7%) but well up on the year (11.9%) in terms of reach.
The first thing to say about London is that radio listening is down in the capital – quite substantially. Reach has fallen 2.7% on the last quarter, while hours have dropped 5.0%. Year on year, listening is up, but we continue to see some odd shifts in London that frankly, I wouldn’t expect to see.
So Capital has done very indeed – up a massive 10% in reach and 11% in hours (and up mre than a quarter on both measures, year on year). It’s easily the biggest commercial station in London in terms of reach.
However Heart grabs the hours crown amongst commercial stations – despite seeing its reach fall 14%, it managed to increase its hours by 4.6% on the quarter. I’m afraid I can’t explain that. Lots of people stopped listening, but those who stayed more than made up for it in terms of hours? Average hours for the station jumped from 5.1 to 6.0 in one quarter.
Meanwhile Kiss saw its reach flat in London, but hours fell by 15%. Another very curious result.
LBC is another station that saw a slight fall in reach (down 3.8%), but a massive fall in hours (down 17.4%) on the quarter.
Magic experienced a more standard pattern, being down in reach and hours (9.2% and 15.2% respectively on the quarter).
Absolute Radio was another oddity – down 6.4% in reach, yet up 22% in hours. Year on year figures were more consistently down 18% and 12% respectively.
We’ve already mentioned Radio X, so let’s draw a veil over lines on a spreadsheet that show results down about a third in reach and hours on the quarter.
Smooth could probably be said to have done well being down a little in reach but flat in hours.
That couldn’t be said for BBC Radio London down a third in reach and nearly 20% in hours on the quarter.
Incidentally – the youngest commercial station in London? Capital Xtra. But they had a disappointing quarter in the capital too, quarter on quarter, down 3.7% in reach and down nearly 10% in hours.
And because I’m a little obssessed about younger listeners, here’s a chart showing average listening hours amongst that age group falling over time in London.
Breakfast is the bread and butter of radio. 86% of radio listeners listen at breakfast – that is Mon-Fri between 0600 and 0900. The peak radio listening moment tends to be about 8am on a weekday.
Listening hours at breakfast account for 23.4% of all radio listening – a big chunk all things considered.
So I was interested to have a look at some overall breakfast listening trends, since it’s such a critical part of the day.
As of Q1 2016, 76.4% of the adult population listen to breakfast radio. A pretty good result, although it’s down from about 80% from five years ago. And you can see from the chart below that this does seem to be a bit of a trend.
If you look at 15-24s it falls from just over 70% to 63.3% today.
My question then is this: are we still providing the right mix of things people want at breakfast?
Obviously the smartphone has come along and is able to give us news, sport, weather, traffic and social media. Many of those things were – and are – radio staples. So what’s radio’s unique proposition? What can it do to maintain audiences and stop them departing from breakfast radio?
As for some national shows themselves?
As with the station overall, it’s not been a great quarter for Grimmy, down 7.4% in reach on the quarter, although only down 1.1% on the year. He now has 5.4m listeners.
Chris Evans on Radio 2 has – if not quite a record audience – then a very good one. He’s listened to by 9.7m people each week, up 3.1% on the quarter and 2.8% on the year.
Across the Absolute Radio Network, Christian O’Connell has his best audience ever, just short of 2m listeners, and up 4.7% on the quarter and 21% on the year. He also won big on Tuesday at the Arqiva Awards.
On TalkSport, Alan Brazil has 1.239m listeners, down a little on the quarter (-4.3%) and more heavily on the year (-16.6%). Again this reflects the overall station performance.
And Chris Moyles has 784,000 listeners which is up 16% from the previous quarter, and nearly double what Xfm was doing the year before. You would imagine that getting over 1m listeners is within reach for him.
Finally, we often talk about “average age” and invariably we get a mean figure which hides a lot of light and dark. So I thought it might be interesting to look at the distribution of reach by age across a number of stations.
So while the average age of a Radio 1 listener is 35, the modal age (i.e. the biggest single age) is actually 24 which is where the peak on the chart below is. Average ages get skewed by, for example, a handful of 88 year olds who just won’t let go of Radio 1 (or are forced to listen to it by their grandchildren!).
Interestingly, Radio 2 has peaks in a couple of places – between 48 and 52, and 64-69. However this is probably more to do with population demographics than anything. The latter are baby boomers for example.
The other stations are slightly lost on this scale, so here’s a second version of the chart rescaled a bit.
Because these stations are bit smaller, the charts get messier (RAJAR isn’t really designed to be looked at this way), but you can see Absolute’s peak at 34, and TalkSport’s a bit older.
For more RAJAR analysis, I’d recommend the following sites:
The official RAJAR site and their infographic is here
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
Go to Media.Info for lots of numbers and charts
Paul Easton for more lots analysis including London charts (on his redesigned blog
Matt Deegan will have some great analysis
Media Guardian for more news and coverage
The BBC Mediacentre for BBC Radio stats and findings
Bauer Media’s site.
Global Radio’s site.
Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, period ending 3 April 2016, Adults 15+.
Disclaimer: These are my views alone and do not represent those of anyone else, including my employer. Any errors (I hope there aren’t any!) are mine alone. Drop me a note if you want clarifications on anything. Access to the RAJAR data is via RALF from DP Software as mentioned at the top of this post.