Radio listening figures for Q2 2020, covering 30th March to 21st June, were due to be released today. But due to the coronavirus lockdown, which began on the 23rd March, no new numbers are available.
The recruitment of the RAJAR listening panel changes every 3 months and is carried out by doorstep researchers. As a result, the face-to-face fieldwork was naturally suspended during lockdown. The RAJAR stakeholder group, which includes both the BBC and the major commercial radio groups, agreed that numbers for Q2 2020 will be based on Q1 listening (30th December – 29th March) with some minor changes taking into account any population changes which are normally applied on each Q2 wave. These numbers will be loaded onto industry planning systems on August 17th and trading will then continue as normal on the Q2 figures for the next 3 months.
However, there is strong evidence that during lockdown there was increased listening to commercial radio, as it continued to provide news and entertainment for the UK population – many of whom spent much more time at home than usual.
Radiocentre, the trade marketing body for radio, commissioned some analysis during lockdown through the research agency DRG and results showed that 38% of commercial radio listeners were tuning in for an extra one hour and 45 minutes each day during the pandemic. 45% of the ‘newly working from home’ group was found to be listening to an additional two hours each day. As a result, the loss of listening from the lack of mass commuting was more than replaced by the boost in home listening. The two major commercial radio groups, Global Radio and Bauer Radio all ran their own separate research during lockdown with Global reporting that average daily reach across all their stations combined was up 23% whilst Bauer reported a 21% increase in streaming hours on mobiles and tablets listening across their portfolio.
Here are some other exciting radio developments covering Q2 and beyond:
Times Radio Launches
In June we saw the launch of a new national commercial station – Times Radio. This is a partnership between The Times, Sunday Times and News UK’s radio division, Wireless. The station aims to offer an alternative to Radio 4 and LBC. High-profile hires include John Pienaar and Mariella Frostrup. Other hosts include Times writers Giles Coren, Hugo Rifkind, Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson, with signings from outside the paper including Michael Portillo, Gloria De Piero and Cathy Newman. The station broadcasts nationally via DAB but does not allow traditional advertising breaks – instead they offer sponsorships of programme and features. Official audience numbers for Times Radio won’t be available until February 2021.
Kiss Breakfast Show
Following drops in listening across all quarters in 2019 in which the Kiss breakfast show lost out to its rivals, KISS is launching a new Breakfast on 3rd August hosted by Jordan Banjo & Perri Kiely. Jordan and Perri were members of the dance group Diversity and they’re taking over the breakfast show from Tom Green who is leaving the station. In addition, Daisy Maskell has already moved to breakfast on KISS Fresh.
Jordan Banjo recently co-hosted ‘The Greatest Dancer’, while Perri placed as runner-up on this year’s ‘Dancing on Ice’. Jordan and Perri said “This is major!! The minute we stepped into KISS last year, it felt like coming home. We grew up listening to the station, vibing off the playlist and we feel it just ‘gets’ us. We couldn’t be anymore gassed to get to host the Breakfast show in an exciting new era for KISS.” Daisy Maskell said: “I cannot wait to launch the brand new Breakfast Show on KISS Fresh and for us to grow this space together! There is so much passion and excitement surrounding its future so it’s such an honour to be a part of the driving force that will turn it into the UK’s biggest and best station for new music.” Rebecca Frank, Content Director for the KISS Network said: “Jordan and Perri have the sort of authentic chemistry that only two best mates can create. Bringing their positive, energetic spirit to everything they do, together they concoct the perfect formula for breakfast radio and we can’t wait for our KISS audience to hear them in action every morning.”
Hits and Greatest Hits
July saw Bauer Radio announce its plans to continue rolling out its respective Hits and Greatest Hits format to its recently acquired stations. Those which have become Greatest Hits Radio will feature shows from presenters including Mark Goodier, Pat Sharp, Andy Crane, Rossie and Alex Lester. The stations will retain their existing breakfast shows in the run-up to early September, when they will fully switch over to Greatest Hits Radio.
The stations seeing programming changes are as follows:
Ex Celador stations – Dream 100 (Colchester), North Norfolk Radio, Radio Norwich, The Beach (Great Yarmouth), The Breeze in Bristol, Cheltenham, East Hants, Somerset, South Devon, Thames Valley, West Wilts & North Dorset and Town 102 (Ipswich).
Ex Wireless stations – Peak FM (Chesterfield), Pulse 2 (Bradford), Radio Wave (Blackpool), Signal 107 (Wolverhampton), Signal 2 (Staffordshire), Tower FM (Bolton), Wire FM (Warrington) and Wish FM (Wigan).
As of Monday 20th of July, Pulse 1 (Bradford), Signal 1 (Staffordshire) and The Wave (Swansea) began taking Hits Radio network programmes outside of weekday breakfast. This has meant that well-known local DJs; Mike Toolan, Greg Burns, Wes Butters & Gemma Atkinson, Jordan Lee, Jenny Longdon and John Isherwood will have weekday shows across Pulse 1 and Signal 1.
There are no changes at the moment planned for Sam FM in Swindon and Bristol or Fire in Bournemouth.
In summary, UK commercial radio remain strong, continues to innovate, launch new stations, attract new talent and refresh programming output – providing an excellent platform for advertisers.
If you’d like more information on anything covered in this blog, please get in touch.