RAJAR Q1 2024

RAJAR Q1 2024

This post is brought to you in association with RALF from DP Software and Services. I’ve used RALF for the many years, and it’s my favourite RAJAR analysis tool. So I am delighted that I continue to be able to bring you this RAJAR analysis in association with RALF. For more details on the product, contact Deryck Pritchard via this link or phone 07545 42567.

This is the first release proper for 2024 covering the period January-March 2024 for the larger national stations. But as ever, note that some national stations as well most networks and groups report on 6 month periods, meaning that these numbers reflect October 2023 – March 2024 listening.

Overall Trends

Listening to All Radio rose a little during the last quarter. Reach was up 1.0% on the quarter and 1.2% on the year to 49.9m adults 15+ listening to the radio at least once a week – more listeners than ever before. That represents 89% of the adult population listening to at least 15 minutes of radio a week. (That percentage has been higher, but the population continues to grow)

Hours also rose, up 0.9% on the quarter and up 1.4% on the year to 1.023 billion hours a week. That averages out at 20 hours a week listening for radio listeners.

Commercial Radio did well this quarter, with reach up 1.4% on the quarter and up 2.5% on the year to 39.7m. Hours were down 0.2% on the quarter but up 6.8% on the year to 554m a week. The average commercial radio listener listens for 14.0 hours a week of commercial radio.

BBC Radio‘s reach was up 0.1% on the quarter but down 2.8% on the year to 31.3m, while hours were up 1.4% on the quarter and down 5.0% on the year to 444m. The average BBC Radio listener listens for 14.2 hours a week of BBC Radio.

National Stations

Radio 1 saw it’s reach fall fractionally on the quarter, down 0.3%, but drop 3.5% on the year to 7.3m. It reaches 13% of the population. Hours grew 0.4% on the quarter, but fell 7.0% on the year to 46.1m.

Radio 2‘s reach fell very slightly, down 0.4% on the quarter, and drop 8.5% on the year to 13.2m. Hours were up 3.5% on the quarter and down 8.4% on the year to 140m (this is the last quarter that the station will be compared with a Ken Bruce quarter). Radio 2, of course, remains the biggest UK radio station in terms of reach and hours.

Radio 3 saw a bit of a drop last quarter, and listening has now returned to a more usual level. April saw the start of new re-jigged schedule, but these listening numbers predate those changes. Reach was up 12.4% on the quarter and up 3.3% on the year to 2.0m. Hours were up 21.1% on the quarter and 15.0% on the year to 16.0m. That’s not quite a record high, but it’s pretty close.

Radio 4 saw its reach climb 1.0% on the quarter but fall 2.1% on the year to 9.2m. Hours rose 2.0% on the quarter and were up 0.4% on the year to 113m. As with Radio 3, Radio 4 has seen some significant (in Radio 4 terms) changes to its schedule, but again, they won’t begin to be reflected in RAJAR figures until next quarter.

Radio 5 Live celebrated its 30th birthday at the end of March. But this quarter reach fell 6.8% on the quarter and was down 4.2% on the year to 4.9m. Hours fell 6.2% on the quarter and were down 3.4% on the year to 29.4m.

6 Music saw its reach grow 1.2% on the quarter, but fall 6.0% on the year to 2.5m. Hours fell 2.9% on the quarter and were down 5.4% on the year to 25.4m.

The BBC World Service saw its reach rise 14.3% on the quarter and was up 12.9% on the year to 1.2m. Hours were up a massive 41.9% on the quarter and were up 19.9% on the year to 7.1m. The station does seem to be liable to some quite significant swings between quarters.

Last week the BBC Asian Network won UK Station of the Year at the ARIAS, and I confess I don’t often report on it. Reach was up 21.0% on the quarter and up 22.1% on the year to 542,000. Hours were up 6.4% on the quarter but down 14.8% on the year to 2.3m. In general the station will be celebrating a good couple of weeks!

BBC Local Radio (including Nations stations) saw its reach fall 1.9% on the quarter, and was down 7.2% on the year to 6.9m. Hours fell 8.2% on the quarter and were down 17.7% on the year to 45.4m. Note that this “group” reports on a 3 month basis, so the impacts of recent changes in programming are likely to be reflected in these figures.

Greatest Hits Radio is having an outsized impact on overall commercial radio listening as can be seen by its continued growth. As I’ve mentioned previously, some of this comes from Bauer absorbing more FM stations into GHR (it was mostly Wave 105 this quarter), but it’s undoubtedly real underlying growth too.

Reach was up 13.8% on the quarter and a massive 50.3% on the year to 7.7m. Hours were up 11.6% on the quarter and a positively gargantuan 76.3% on the year to 64.1m. Unquestionably this station continues to be a massive success for Bauer (who I note have still had a bit of a change of guard amongst some of their senior radio executives).

Classic FM suffered a little this quarter, with reach down 5.3% on the quarter, and down 2.3% on the year to 4.4m. Hours were down 9.0% on the quarter but up 1.7% on the year to 37.2m. One thing to note here is that in January Classic FM moved from DAB to DAB+. That is of note because older DAB radio sets don’t have DAB+ on them.

Examining Classic FM’s DAB listening figures suggests that this might have caused them some lost listeners. In the period Q1 22-Q4 23, an average of 37.4% of listening hours were via DAB. But in Q1 2024, that figure was just 32.0%. And during the same periods, an average of 42.9% of listeners listened at least some of the time to Classic FM via DAB, but this fell to 37.9% in Q1 2024.

I would note that this is a single quarter of data, so it’s not a robust comparison. But it’s not hard to imagine that, say, some car drivers with older DAB radios no longer receive Classic FM on them. Or maybe that elderly, but still functional kitchen radio doesn’t get DAB+?

For classical music completeness, let’s check in on Scala Radio who announced back in February that they were making some significant programming changes with a number of “name” presenters leaving. The station (which reports six monthly) saw reach fall 5.5% on the quarter and decline 29.3% on the year to 188,000. Hours were down 3.4% on the quarter and fell 27.0% on the year to 1.7m. That’s the station’s lowest reach since launch.

Returning to speech, LBC (UK) saw its reach rise 3.2% on the quarter, but fall 6.3% on the year to 2.5m. Hours were up 7.4% on the quarter, but down 6.5% on the year to 27.5m. Obviously LBC has been in the news recently with some of its own programming changes surrounding weekend shows, and in particular the departure of Sangita Myska and resultant social media discussions surrounding those changes. One way or another, that all post-dates this RAJAR release.

A good quarter for talkSPORT saw its reach rise 10.0% on the quarter and up 2.9% on the year to 3.4m. Hours were up 0.8% on the quarter and up 9.7% on the year to 21.0m.

Over at TalkRadio it has been an interesting period, with this quarter seeing the end of their linear broadcast on television (although they continue online). Again, that’s not really reflected in these RAJAR figures. Reach was up 4.4% on the quarter but down 9.9% on the year to 757,000. Hours were down 9.2% on the quarter and down 11.3% on the year to 5.0m.

Stablemate Times Radio, who I learnt at a Podcast Discovery event this week, are positioning themselves as “The Election Station” saw reach rise 2.2% on the quarter, but fall 9.2% on the year to 503,000. Hours were very good, up 11.9% on the quarter and up 26.7% on the year to 4.4m.

Virgin Radio saw its reach rise 7.4% on the quarter, but fall slightly down 0.9% on the year to 1.5m. Hours were down 0.4% on the quarter and down 2.3% on the year to 9.1m.

Boom Radio saw a slight dip in reach this quarter, down 4.0% on the quarter and down 5.2% on the year to 602,000. But hours were up 3.6% on the quarter and up 15.7% on the year to 7.1m. Some of that fall may be attributable to Boom shutting down their DAB transmitter in London (they’re on DAB+ nationally via the SDL multiplex). At 11.8 average hours per listener, Boom has the highest number of average hours for any UK music radio station!

GB News, which continues on both television and radio, saw reach rise 5.8% on the quarter and was up 42.6% on the year to 455,000. Hours rose 14.9% on the quarter and they grew 22.3% on the year to 3.2m.

As we get closer to an election, it will be interesting to see how the various speech stations do in the new radio environment we find ourselves in for this election cycle.

Brands & Networks

Total Global Radio has had a very strong quarter overall, with reach up 4.1% on the quarter and up 3.8% on the year to 26.2m. Hours were up 3.6% on the quarter and up 5.7% on the year to 245m. (Global actually sells even more than this, representing some non-Global owned stations).

The other side of the Euston Road at The Lantern, where Bauer Media has now moved all its London staff and stations (in a location that is a stone’s throw from the old Euston Tower were Capital Radio used to reside), they have also had a good quarter. Bauer Media Audio UK (exc Partners) was up 4.0% on the quarter and 8.7% on the year to 22.7m. Hours were up 1.8% on the quarter and up 14.4% on the year to 212m. (As with Global, Bauer sells on behalf of partners meaning that they have more hours available to sell than this).

So Global remains ahead of Bauer.

It has been a big quarter for Capital with Jordan North taking over from Roman Kemp on breakfast. But, as is becoming a familiar refrain, that isn’t impacted by these results. Capital Network (UK) saw reach grow 6.3% on the quarter and rise 1.5% on the year to 6.2m. Hours were up 7.1% on the quarter and up 0.8% on the year to 29.4m.

The overall Capital Brand (UK) which incorporates their digital sister stations, saw its reach rise 4.9% on the quarter and increase 6.0% on the year to 8.3m. Hours rose 5.7% on the quarter and grew 7.9% on the year to 42.5m. Those are some of their best figures since 2019.

And it has been even better news for Heart. The Heart Network (UK) rose 6.8% on the quarter and was up 6.1% on the year to 9.4m. Hours were up 6.0% on the quarter and up 6.4% on the year to 60.2m. Those are Heart’s biggest ever figures for reach and hours!

Across the entire Heart Brand (UK) reach rose 7.5% on the quarter and was up 10.2% on the year to 12.4m. Hours were up 5.7% on the quarter and were up 10.3% on the year to 80.8m. Likewise, these are record figures for the Heart Brand across both reach and hours.

More good news for the Smooth Radio Network (UK) which saw reach rise 6.0% on the quarter and grow 10.5% on the year to 5.8m. Hours were up 4.3% on the quarter and up 9.0% on the year to 37.7m. And the same was true across the Smooth Brand (UK) which saw reach up 5.9% on the quarter and up 11.0% on the year to 6.5m. Hours rose 4.6m on the quarter and were up 7.3% on the year to 42.3m.

Finally, Radio X Network (UK) was up 2.8% on the quarter and up 2.8% on the year to 2.1m. Hours were down 6.3% on the quarter but up 6.4% on the year to 17.5m. The overall Radio X Brand (UK) was up 2.3% on the quarter to 2.2m. Hours were down 5.6% on the quarter to 18.8m.

Hits Radio has now rebranded all its heritage stations to Hits – not without some specific issues cropping up. But any impact of this rebranding won’t begin to hit RAJAR properly for another quarter or two. And it’s fun to see Bauer’s new advertising campaign for Hits Radio even on outdoor poster sites owned by, er, Global.

That all said, Bauer has redefined Hits Radio this quarter to include all the new stations that share the same branding, and that means a huge bump in the numbers.

Reach was up 217% on the quarter and 159% on the year, to 4.5m. And hours were up 316% on the quarter and 468% on the year to 28.9m.

Absolute Radio saw its reach fall 5.2% on the quarter and decline 8.0% on the year to 2.2m. On the other hand hours were up 12.0% on the quarter and up 2.7% on the year to 15.7m. The Absolute Radio Network saw reach increase 3.7% on the quarter and grow 2.7% on the year to 5.5m. Hours were down 2.5% on the quarter, but rose 1.0% on the year to 35.4m.

Magic saw its reach fall 10.3% on the quarter, but it was up 7.7% on the year to 3.1m. Hours were down 19.4% on the quarter but up 4.1% on the year to 15.7m. Meanwhile, the Magic Network grew 6.3% on the quarter and increase 9.6% on the year to 4.4m. Hours were down 3.3% on the quarter but up 3.0% on the year to 23.4m.

Kiss saw more falls this quarter with reach down 2.4% on the quarter and down 8.4% on the year to 2.3m. Hours were down 3.3% on the quarter and down 17.8% on the year to 8.2m. Those are certainly the station’s lowest figures in ten years.

And KISSTORY also saw some falls, with reach down 11.8% on the quarter and down 3.5% on the year to 2.1m. Hours were down 17.1% on the quarter and down 11.4% on the year to 8.7m. That means that KISSTORY is smaller than Kiss in reach, but larger in hours.

Platforms and Podcasts

This quarter saw a record high for digital share of All Radio listening and record low for AM/FM share of listening. And since we’ve not had a chart this time around, here’s a chart!

It was back in 2018 that digital overtook analogue for listening, but now just 27% of listening hours are analogue, whilst 73% of listening is digital.

The other thing to keep an eye on is the percentage of the population who say that they listen to podcasts every week. This has been continually rising is now at 20.7% this quarter compared with 20.3% last quarter and 19.6% last year. (Again, note that this measure should not be compared with other podcast listening measures, as the methodologies are different)


Matt Deegan‘s blog is here.
The official RAJAR site has all the topline figures
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
Media.Info for lots of numbers and charts
The Media Leader will have analysis
BBC Mediacentre for BBC Radio stats and findings
Bauer Media’s corporate site
Global Radio’s corporate site
Radiocentre’s website

All my previous RAJAR analyses are here.

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos MORI/RSMB, period ending 31 March 2024, 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.






One response to “RAJAR Q1 2024”

  1. Matt avatar

    Hi Adam. Could you give me some analysis on how Jazz FM is performing… generally over the last 12 months to today?