Welcome to RAJAR day. The results for Q1 2016 are in and with a Red Bull in hand (other energy drinks are available) our experts have been pouring over the figures, assessing the changes and forming a view on the overall radio listenership trends during the quarter.
The way people consume media today is ever-changing. The media landscape is shifting with press, TV and online companies all battling to re-invent themselves, in a world that demands constant evolution. What this RAJAR demonstrates is that radio is still hugely popular – steady, reliable and consistently delivering loyal audiences.
Overall, commercial radio’s share of listening is 43.2%, up from 42.8% year on year. Share of national listening is also up 14.6% from 14.2%, as is reach – up by 6% to 18.2 million.
There are plenty of fascinating stories to take out of this quarter’s results, but here are some of the key insights nationally and locally.
Nationals and Networks
One of the most fascinating stories revolves around Radio X. This was always going to be the RAJAR where changes to the brand and programming last year really started to make their mark. They put in a solid performance with an increase in total listening hours but interestingly most of the gains came from outside of London.
In the battle between the Global and Bauer brands, Global still has the bigger numbers in terms of reach and hours but Bauer have made the biggest gains. Magic has pulled an increase of 3% reach and 5% in hours out of the hat. The Kiss audience has remained stable but Absolute Radio’s 15% increase in total hours to 15.7million is great news for the popular rock station.
The Digital radio success story continues – with DAB, DTV and online now accounting for 44.1% of all radio listening. And it’s no surprise that ownership of DAB radios has increased to 55.7%.
Digital stations that are making a noise this RAJAR include Planet Rock and Absolute 80s. Planet Rock has increased by 10% in reach and, more impressively, have rocked out with a guitar-twanging increase of 30% in total hours.
Absolute 80s keeps growing as fast as an 80’s mullet with a weekly reach of 1.7 million, up by 9% – their highest ever.
Kisstory is on a high – up in both weekly reach and total hours by 3%. Other Absolute brands – 70s, 90s and Classic Rock have seen a more mixed picture of gains and losses.
London has had a quieter than usual RAJAR quarter with only 3 of the 14 major London stations increasing in reach.
Capital 95.8 is king as the largest reaching station in London, with nearly 2.3 million listeners tuning in each week – an increase of 10% compared to the last quarter.
Capital has also won the battle for breakfast in London with Dave Berry and new co-presenters George Shelley and Lilah Parsons. The weekly audience is up 35% year on year, so didn’t suffer from the departure of long-standing co-host Lisa Snowdon.
Heart can claim the prize for the most listening hours in London, beating its stable-mate LBC.
Absolute Radio will be absolutely ecstatic with their performance in the capital, with a rise of 22% in total listening hours. The Christian O’Connell breakfast show has also achieved its highest ever audience.
Analysing the smaller London stations, Premier Christian Radio has gained 11% in reach and 42% in total listening. Meanwhile, Sunrise is resurgent, winning back the majority of the listeners they lost in the last quarter, up 25% in reach and 22% in hours.
These are the top 5 stations in London in terms of reach
1. Capital London 2,286,000
2. Kiss 100 2,011,000
3. Magic 105.4 1,745,000
4. Heart London 1,547,000
5. LBC 97.3 1,001,000
And here’s the ranking in terms of total hours:
1. Heart London 9,482,000
2. Capital London 9,474,000
3. LBC 97.3 8,993,000
4. Magic 105.4 8,812,000
5. Kiss 100 8,726,000
Across the Irish sea the mist is clearing as Downtown Radio has bounced back from a couple of disappointing quarters, with a 12% increase in reach and a 21% increase in hours – the only Northern Irish station to increase both reach and hours this quarter.
Both Q brand radio stations have managed to up their average listening hours with Q Radio Belfast showing a spike in total hours of 12% and the Q Network increasing by 6%. The relatively recent rebrand from Citybeat doesn’t seem to have harmed Q Radio Belfast, with the station growing its listenership both quarters since the name change.
Heart Scotland hasn’t missed a beat as it’s managed to build on the solid 35% increase in total hours it achieved last quarter, adding a further 7% this time round. This brings its total hours up to 3,641,000, which Year on Year is a 29.2% increase in hours. It’s a stellar performance.
Capital Scotland has also had a good RAJAR, with a slight increase in reach and a 12% boost in hours. This means that Capital Scotland still holds the top spot in its battle against Heart Scotland in terms of reach, but Heart has is still dominant in terms of total hours.
Over in Edinburgh, there have been some fairly hefty swings this RAJAR, but one highlight is local DAB station, Forth 3. It’s had a colossal uplift in its total hours of 96%, but bear in mind this only takes their total weekly hours up to 49,000.
West Sound & Radio Borders have both had slight uplifts in reach and hours, and now achieve impressive reach percentage figures of 47% and 53% respectively.
Smooth Radio Scotland has also has had a decent quarter with a 3% increase in reach and a 4% increase in hours.
They’ll be singing their hearts out in the north of the principality as Heart North Wales reported a 36% increase in hours – that’s 11.77% year on year. Owners Global Radio will also be celebrating the success of Smooth Radio South Wales – upping its total hours by 16%.
96.4 The Wave has the distinction of being the only Welsh station to increase both reach and hours this quarter, although the change is marginal.
The Local Picture
Let’s start in the South and after a great Q4 result at the end of 2015, the KMFM group has as another great move forward – closing the gap on Heart Kent further with a 23% increase in their total hours.
Elsewhere in Kent, it’s smooth sailing for the Smooth brand in Kent with a 25% uplift in hours. But people still love Heart – it retains the honour of being most listened to station in the area.
If you want a taste of Cornwall, the waters stay calm for Pirate FM as it retains its positive position from last quarter with another increase in hours.
As mentioned earlier, one of the major talking points for Q1 is how did Radio X perform? Well, in Manchester the brand switch up seems to be working, with gains in both in hours and reach (up 23% from 1,011,000 to 1,239,000 total hours and up 6% in weekly reach.) However, Capital Manchester still remains the most dominant station, even with a slight decrease of 7% in hours.
The AM stations are doing well, perhaps due in part due to the ageing UK population. Global’s Smooth brand is doing well in Cambridge – up 59% in hours and Smooth Devon has also posted a big increase – up 46% in hours.
Looking to the big cities, particularly across the north, the heritage stations are seeing great loyalty from listeners. Bauer’s Big City Network put in a strong performance during Q1. TFM 2 deserves a mention – up 65% in hrs (from 84,000 to 139,000) and also 36% in reach – a great performance from the Teesside station.
In other news north of the border Metro 2 is up 52% in hours and 12% in reach. Blackpool’s Rock FM 2 is also up 20% in hours.
Going ultra-local, residents in West Sussex are getting into the spirit by getting behind their local station Spirit FM and listening for longer – total hours up 19% from 441,000 to 524,000.
There’s a favourable wind behind The Breeze brand. The Breeze Basingstoke, Newbury and Andover is up 36% in hours and up 33% in reach compared to the last quarter. Over in Cheltenham, The Breeze is up 45% in hours.
There’s also a revolution in Oldham with their local station (The Revolution) up 37% in hours and 5% in reach.
Overall, commercial radio continues to evolve with new brands, new stations and new technology driving growth. The results from Q1 shows that there is still massive loyalty to radio across the UK. Within a media sea of change, Radio is the ship with a strong hand on the rudder!
We’ve got all the data, so if you like to know more about what the latest RAJAR figures mean for you contact us today.