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Note on Methodology
A brief reminder that this is only the third set of RAJAR data since collection resumed following the pandemic. That means once again, I’m only really looking at quarter on quarter changes.
The methodology continues to evolve due to how samples are collated, so quarter on quarter is the only comparison that can be reliably made.
Reach remains at 89%, no change on last quarter, and hours remain at just over 1 billion a week. That means that average hours per radio listener are at 20.4 hours a week (up 0.1 hours since last quarter).
Overall BBC Radio reach fell slightly from 62% last quarter to 61% this time around, although average hours are up from 14.5 hours a week to 14.7 hours a week.
Commercial Radio has a higher reach with 67% of the population listening each week, compared with 66% last quarter. Average hours here are 13.2 hours a week compared with 13.1 hours a week last time around.
As you can see, the BBC maintains a slight advantage over Commercial Radio in terms of share.
The big story this quarter is actually that youth brand stations like Radio 1, Kiss and Capital all saw some of their all-time lowest listenerships. I’ll dive into each of those stations in turn below, but it’s worth trying to see what the demographic reasons could be.
Reach for 15-24s was actually up 1.2% from 5.864m to 5.936m. And if you consider 15-34s, reach was up 1.1%.
Since all of those services broadly speaking targets 15-34s (and younger), that doesn’t help explain things. However, hours did fall – down 8.3% for 15-24s in particular to 65m. So this group is still listening to the radio, but just not as much. And that means that perhaps a listener who used to listen to Radio 1, Kiss and Capital, is now listening to slightly fewer stations, resulting in each station seeing falls in listenership.
It’s a subtle thing, and almost certainly it’s listening that’s being replaced with streaming audio – and quite probably streaming video too.
Last quarter I noted that overall listening patterns had changed slightly since RAJAR measurement had resumed post-pandemic. It’s important to note that even though many people returned to work (if they hadn’t already) during Q1 2022, there was an uptick in cases during the early part of the year. Nevertheless, if you compare this most recent quarter with the previous quarter, there’s a slight increase in listening during the breakfast peak.
That little gap between the blue and red lines around 8am shows increased breakfast radio listening. That in itself probably means more people getting up in time for commutes and school runs.
That doesn’t mean that Ken Bruce isn’t the biggest show on the radio however, with 8.9m listeners between 0930 and 1230, compared with 7.4m for Zoe Ball between 0630 and 0930. Whether that gap is ever closed is another question, since the nature of the UK workforce has changed post-pandemic, while working from home at least some of the time looks to be in a lot of our long-term futures.
So yes, James O’Brien on LBC is still just ahead of Nick Ferrari with 1.389m listeners between 1000-1300 compared to Ferrari’s 1.379m listeners between 0700-1000.
National Stations and Brands
Back in December GB News launched on DAB, simulcasting the audio of its TV station on the radio. It has a first RAJAR result of 239,000 listeners a week.
To put that in perspective, Times Radio has 703,000 listeners (a new high for them, up from 502,000 last quarter), while talkRADIO has 650,000 listeners (a new record high for them too, up from 542,000 last quarter).
Of course LBC has 2.7m listeners (up from 2.6m last quarter), while BBC Radio 5 Live has 5.6m (down from 5.9m last quarter) and BBC Radio 4 has 10.6m (up from 10.5m last quarter). And to round things out, BBC World Service has 1.5m (up from 1.2m last quarter).
The “competition” between GB News (essentially a TV station on the radio) and TalkTV/talkRADIO (essentially a radio station on the TV) will be interesting to follow.
To be honest, the big story is probably the falls in listening on Radio 1. It’s reach is down 6.0% to 7.7m, while hours have fallen 11.7% to 47.6m. Those are both all-time lows. The losses look to be fairly consistent across the day, with Greg James down 7.9% at breakfast to 4.1m, Rickie, Melvin and Charlie down 12.4% in the mornings, Scott Mills down 4.5% in the early afternoon, and Vick and Jordan down 7.5% in drive. Clara Amfo is down 4.9% in reach at 1800, but actually put on some hours – better than any of her earlier daytime colleagues. Meanwhile evenings actually saw a gain in reach, up 3.2% across all the various specialist shows that run after 2000.
To be honest, the fall feels a little too sharp to me in one quarter. But it could still be indicative.
Radio 2 was down 1.9% in both reach and hours to 14.6m listeners and 161m hours. Meanwhile Radio 3 had a really decent quarter, up to 2.1m reach (+3.0%) and gaining 9.9% in hours to 15.9m.
6 Music also had a fantastic set of figures with reach up 9.3% to 2.8m – a new record high for the station, while hours also achieved an all-time high with 28.2m, up 10.2% on the quarter.
Classic FM had a very solid set of numbers with 5.2m reach up 2.0% and hours up 3.4%.
The talkSPORT family of stations did well with talkSPORT up 3.7% in reach to 3.0m while hours rose 1.7%. talkSPORT2 was up 29.6% to 504,000 reach with hours up 29.6% to 1.1m (obviously big percentages from small bases for a station heavily reliant on the “overspill” sport it has from the main station).
Absolute Radio was down 2.1% to 2.2m reach, with hours down 2.0% as well. And Absolute 80s fell 5.7% to 1.5m while hours fell 6.9%.
As with Radio 1, Kiss didn’t have a great quarter. Reach fell 16.8% to 2.3m, while hours were down 17.7% to 8.7m. Again, these are all time lows (under current methodologies). Kisstory also saw falls, down 4.1% to 2.2m and hours down 6.1% to 9.2m. That means Kisstory has just 100,000 fewer listeners than its parent brand, and it now has more hours.
Considering that Kisstory is DAB-only and Kiss still has a number of FM licences, might it actually make sense to switch Kiss and Kisstory around on FM? I suspect an older FM audience might drive Kisstory’s numbers up.
Magic saw its reach fall 8.5% to 3.0m and hours were down 10.3% to 16.3m. Things were a bit better if you looked at the overall Magic Network with reach up 0.2% to 4.1m and hours down 0.1% to 23.5m.
The Hits Radio Network group of Bauer’s major city stations saw reach increase 2.4% to 5.8m while hours fell 0.3% to 47.0m. But in percentage terms its Greatest Hits Radio that did very well for them with reach up 27.5% to 3.9m and hours up 13.0% to 26.6m.
The youth brand that perhaps did least badly this quarter was Capital, with the Capital Network down 4.4% to 6.1m and hours down 6.0% to 27.5m. But as with Radio 1 and Kiss, these are the lowest results of this network since it was formulated like this back in 2010 (when it rebranded many local services as “Capital”). If the Capital XTRA brand is added in, the overall Capital Brand is down 0.8% to 7.5m and hours down 3.1% to 35.5m.
The Heart Network saw reach fall 0.5% to 8.5m and hours climb 1.7% to 54.2m. And if you look a thte wider Heart Brand reach was down 0.4% to 10.2m while hours were up 1.5m to 65.3m making this Global’s biggest overall brand
The Smooth Brand was down 3.7% to 5.8m with hours down 8.0% to 37.0m. Meanwhile the Radio X Network saw reach drop 8.1% to 1.9m and hours fall 2.0% to 17.8m.
Virgin Radio fell 1.9% to 1.6m reach, but saw hours rise 1.5%.
Finally Boom Radio saw its reach jump 19.8% to 290,000 with hours up 9.9% to 2.7m – both record highs for the still very new station.
Global, Bauer and Everyone Else
The two big commercial groups are Global and Bauer, with each selling not just their owned and operated services, but a number of smaller ones too.
I thought it was perhaps worth examining them in context with one another.
Bauer, who have just promoted Richard Dawkins to President of Audio, saw its own reach increase by 1.5% to 19.7m reach, with hours falling very slight, down 0.3% to 172.8m.
If you then add in stations it sells on top of its own, reach grew 2.4% to 21.1m reach, and hours were up 0.9% to 192.3m.
Global Radio has three sets of numbers – for stations it owns, for its own brands (which includes a handful of licenced station brands owned by others), and for stations it sells. I’ll just compare the first two for the purposes of comparison here.
For Global Radio (UK) it was flat in reach with 24.3m listeners a week, and hours up 0.4% to 220.8m.
If you then add in stations it sells and licences branding for, it was also flat in reach, but with 25.9m listeners a week, listening for 242.0m hours (down 0.4% on the quarter).
Here’s a simplified commercial radio market share chart based on these numbers.
While they’re a distant third, that Wireless chunk of listening is not insignificant.
The official RAJAR site
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
Matt Deegan always has great analysis, and you should probably sign up for his Substack email
Media.Info for lots of numbers and charts
Mediatel’s Newsline will have analysis
BBC Mediacentre for BBC Radio stats and findings
Bauer Media’s corporate site
Global Radio’s corporate site
Source: RAJAR/Ipsos MORI/RSMB, period ending 3 April 2022, 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.