Who’s listening to what station?… how are they listening?… and what does it all mean? The RAJAR results for Q2 2017 are in and this is our expert summary.

If radio was a sport – commercial radio would be winning all the silverware. In Quarter 2 it achieved its highest ever total audience –  at 35.88 million – up by over a million, compared to last quarter. It’s a stunning performance for “Team Commercial” and here’s our detailed post-match analysis from the dressing room.

Nationals and Networks

First up to quaff the champagne is Global with solid performances from Classic, Capital, Smooth, LBC, Gold and Radio X, which are all higher in both reach and total hours since last quarter.

Classic FM is in tune, delivering an excellent performance gaining significant reach and hours this quarter – adding over 400,000 more listeners and increasing total hours by 16%. Capital is up 3% in total hours across the network and now reaches a record of over 8 million listeners. Smooth is up by 10% in total hours and Gold by 6%.

Meanwhile, there’s big news for LBC nationally – it just keeps on growing and growing. For the first time ever, it now reaches over 2 million listeners each week – an increase of 18% year on year. Similarly, Radio X has marked the spot and reported a series of strong figures with 17% growth in reach year on year to nearly 1.4 million

Over at Bauer, it’s a big smacker for Kisstory as they post another record set of results, with their highest ever reach at over 1.7 million listeners and 17% increase in total hours compared to last quarter. Kiss Fresh have been “getting fresh” with their listeners, exceeding a weekly reach of over half a million listeners.  For Jazz, it’s “move on up” courtesy of Curtis Mayfield as it gains 19% more listeners compared to last quarter.

Digital

Digital has done it again. Listening via digital platforms has continued its upward trend reaching a high of 48.7%, up from 47.2% last quarter and 45.3% a year ago. 1.5m additional adults are now listening via digital, compared to Quarter 2 – 2016, taking digital reach to 33 million people, and for the first time, over 60% of the population at 61.2%.

The fastest growth is in online/apps which grew by 9.1% in hours to account for 8.8% share of all radio listening and 18% of digital listening. This may have been fuelled by the rapid growth of radio listening via voice-controlled smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. The majority of digital listening still takes place via DAB (71%) which grew 6.1% in hours to account for 34.5% share of all radio listening.

In-car digital listeners are putting the pedal to the metal, growing hours by 20% year on year. Digital listening in car has reached a new record share of 29.7%, thanks to over 700,000 new cars hitting the UK roads with DAB digital radio as standard in the first quarter of the year. (Source; CAP/SMMT). Overall, listening in cars has contributed to 38% of the digital listening hourly growth.

London

It’s the Capital of radio – London’s Capital FM remains the biggest station for reach in London at 2.3 million – its largest reach for 13 years, growing its audience compared to both last quarter and last year.

The National brands have replicated their achievements locally in London with LBC adding 31.6% more listeners and increasing its reach to 1.7 million listeners. The run up to the general election took place during this quarter, so may account for much of that increase. Radio X had a rocking quarter – up 25.9% to a new reach of 476,000 whilst adding 24% more hours – the highest since their first RAJAR in 2015. Meanwhile, Heart London has increased their beat growing 21.9% to a reach of 1.7million.

Over at Bauer, they’ve pulled a few rabbits from the hat as Magic posted a decent gain of 93,000 listeners (slightly more than the capacity of Wembley Stadium). Urban tune lovers helped Kiss 100 break the 2 million listener mark again, with a robust 13.8% growth compared to the previous quarter.

But the star of the show is Capital Xtra with an incredible 74.7% gain in reach taking it to 664,000 listeners in London alone! (Fires club air-horn)

The commercial radio breakfast show battle in London has again been convincingly won by Capital with 1.24 million listeners. Coming second is Kiss with Rickie, Melvin and Charlie waking up 941,000 weekly listeners. But Nick Ferrari on LBC is tailgating them with 906,000 listeners – a massive rise on last quarter.

TOP 5 LONDON STATIONS BY REACH

1.    Capital – 2.31 million

2.    Kiss – 2.05 million

3.    Heart – 1.7 million

4.    Magic – 1.55 million

5.    LBC – 1.41 million

Finally, we couldn’t leave our analysis of London without mentioning digital station Thames Radio. After taking a bit of a knock in the last RAJAR, it’s bounced back by increasing its reach 300% to 16,000 and its hours a staggering 494%. Interestingly, it only recently dropped all presenters from its schedule to play non-stop music so we’ll see how it affects its next survey.

The Local Picture … in England

Local independent radio is connecting well with listeners in the North West, where Wire FM in Warrington increased its hours by 16% in total hours and also 14% in reach, compared to last quarter.

After the merger of The Bee and 2BR, which spread its wings across Preston, Burnley and Blackburn, the station has shown that small changes can make a big difference.  This quarter has seen an uplift of 43% in total hours from 499,000 to 712,000 (with average hours now at 11).

If you want a revolution you’ll have to go to Oldham. After a good result last quarter, local station Revolution 96.2 is up 11% in hours compared to the last quarter and 92% year on year.

Over where the River Hull meets the Humber Estuary, Viking FM has invaded the airwaves increasing in both hours (+15%) and reach (+6%) this quarter. Outshining its sister station though is Viking 3 – up a whopping 1000% in total hours from 8,000 to 88,000 (average hours up from 1.4 to 9.3). Not forgetting AM, Viking 2 is up 248% from 184,000 to 640,000 hours.

Doncaster’s local station is on track for great things – Trax FM is up by 38% in total hours, from 501,000 to 690,000 and also reaching 12% more of the local residents.

Meanwhile, in the South East, Jack FM Berkshire has grown like a magic beanstalk in both hours and reach. Quarter on quarter, it’s up a 54% in total hours from 134,000 to 207,000, more notably year on year hours have seen a 180% uplift.

In Essex, the only way is… Time 107.5 – the local station for Romford has had a great set of results and the rest of county will be ‘well jel’. Time 107.5 is up a total of 52% in hours and up 39% in reach.

The British Summer is in full swing in the town of Eastbourne where they have seen a vast increase in visitors wearing socks and sandals whilst eating a 99. Not even stormy seas will rock this boat, as More Radio (Eastbourne) boasts a 176% increase in total hours compared to the last quarter.

In the South West, the Sam branded stations are hogging the limelight. Sam FM Bristol is up 21% in total hours and up 4% in reach. However, the biggest winner is Sam FM Swindon where the results are a Sam-tastic quarter on quarter increase of 57% in total hours.

Racing ahead, The Breeze Cheltenham is also up 57% in total hours quarter on quarter, with their average hours up from 4.7 to 7.3.

… in Northern Ireland

Overall, it’s been a solid quarter for commercial radio in this part of the world. For the most part growth has been steady with no major losses. Whilst Q Radio Belfast has dropped 7% of its weekly listeners, it has managed to balance this out with an increase in average hours – up 2%.

County music fans can shout ‘Yee-Haa!’ as Downtown Country has increased its reach by 22% quarter on quarter, and total hours have shot up a rootin’-tootin’ 37%. This growth has helped the Downtown Network bolster its total listening hours by 10%.

Over at Q Radio, they’ve seen an increase in weekly total hours to 1,185,000 – that equates to  14% rise quarter on quarter and year on year.

… in Scotland

Across the border, Glaswegians have been loving the feel-good oldies this quarter with both Smooth and Clyde 2 showing fantastic growth. Smooth Scotland’s total hours have increased by 38% (despite a drop in population) and Clyde 2 has seen an impressive 32% hike in hours.

There’s a real swell of pride over in Dundee as Wave 102 has increased its reach by 19% and hours by 38%. In fact, it’s been a pretty good RAJAR for the Scottish ILR stations in general, with Central FM and Kingdom FM both reporting double digit growth in hours. Global’s Capital Scotland has done well for the second quarter in a row with a 14% spike in total hours. Taking a longer view, that’s a 17% growth year on year!

… in Wales

It’s swings and roundabouts for Smooth and Capital in Wales with both brands doing fantastically well in the South, but less so in the North. Smooth Radio South Wales has seen a particularly impressive 46% growth in weekly reach.

Capital South Wales is roaring like a dragon with an impressive 16% growth in reach and 28% growth in hours. However, the real success story comes from its year on year figures – reach up by 17% and hours by 40% compared to this time last year.

Nation Radio has recovered from a poor showing last quarter with a 15% increase in reach year on year. Swansea Bay Radio also had a tidy set of results – up 29% in hours quarter on quarter and an impressive 69% year on year.

 Summary

Every RAJAR has its variables but, with more and more people listening to commercial radio across a range of platforms and devices, radio has not just held its own but seen significant overall growth this quarter.

This is great news for advertisers, looking for a medium with consistent and reliable performance.

If you have any questions about how this RAJAR will affect your radio advertising, and to discuss how you can take advantage of the latest airtime and sponsorship opportunities, just drop us a line.

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