There’s been a huge number of captivating stories over the last few months.

The General Election, Brexit, Megxit and the attempt to impeach Donald Trump, but here’s another captivating story that’s hot off the press… the latest RAJAR results for Q4 2019!

The big news is that the UK remains in love with radio reaching over 87.5% of the population with Commercial Radio still reaching 1.5 million more listeners than the BBC. There’s more choice than ever before and digital radio is leading the way.

So, whether you’re a news and current affairs junkie or a lover of music or sport, radio delivers in spades!

Let’s take a closer look at some of the headlines…

National Stations and Networks

The top 3 highest reaching networks remain Heart, Capital and Hits Radio Brand, with 8 million, 6.5 million and 6.6 million listeners respectively.

Classic FM has made strong gains this quarter, up 6% in weekly reach from 5.1 million to 5.5 million listeners with its share of listening now at 4.1%.

One of the strongest performing national stations has been Kiss whose reach has increased marginally to 3.8 million and has reported 14% more hours in total since last quarter, growing share of the national marketplace from 1.5% to 1.8% – an increase of 20%.

The Magic Network has pulled a rabbit out of the hat and increased total listening hours by 6%. This is due to longer average hours across the network but mainly on digital stations – Mellow Magic and Magic Soul.

The Q4 2019 RAJAR survey was carried out during the run up to the General Election, and the LBC Network certainly benefited. It’s continued to grow with weekly reach at another record of 2.7 million, proving that the UK’s appetite for current affairs shows no sign of abating. This figure is up 6% quarter on quarter (from 2.6 million) and 23% year on year (from 2.2 million). Total listening hours are consistent with the previous quarter but are up 15% compared to the same period last year.

Digital Listening and Digital Only Stations

Digital listening to national commercial stations grew by 21% year on year, helped by the launch of a raft of new stations. There was an impressive set of results for the first RAJAR survey from all the new kids on the block.

Heart 90’s got into the groove posting a strong 627,000 weekly reach and 2.6m hours.

Meanwhile, hitting the dance floor with a 380,000 weekly reach and 1.8m hours was Heart Dance.

Capital XTRA Reloaded’s non-stop old skool anthems sang to listeners with a weekly reach of 330,000 and 1 million hours.

Smooth Radio Chill are trying to stay cool about their 301,000 weekly reach and 911,000 hours.

Heart 70’s are proudly showing off their flared trousers, delivering a weekly reach of 48,000 and 800,000 hours.

Finally, its “yee-ha” for Smooth Radio Country with a 204,000 weekly reach and 1 million listening hours.

Overall digital radio is performing well, no doubt boosted by the fact that 31% of adults claim to own a voice-activated speaker (Amazon Echo/Google Home etc.) and listening online via apps in home grew by 43% year on year. We predict that smart speakers will see continued growth throughout 2020.

Meanwhile, Digital listening in the car reached a new record of 44.5%, growing 16.4% year on year. This has been driven (pardon the pun) by 95% of new cars now coming with DAB as standard (Source: Q4 2019, CAP/SMMT).

The other digital highlights of Q4 2019 were from established stations Planet Rock, Magic Soul, Scala Radio and TalkRADIO

Planet Rock is turning up the volume with its weekly reach up 13% to 1.2 million, compared to the previous quarter and is also up 11% year on year.

At Magic Soul, a favourite at Radio Experts HQ, weekly reach was up 10% quarter on quarter to 340,000 and up 12% year on year.

Classical station, Scala Radio, was up 8% in weekly reach compared to the previous quarter with 250,000 listeners. This is a solid performance, increasing audience on only its second ever RAJAR sweep.

Finally, for digital, TalkRADIO has achieved an impressive set of result with hours up 11.5% on the quarter and an amazing 93.6% on the year.

London

It’s been a healthy set of results for the stations in London this quarter with some positive stories.

Capital London has retained its crown as the station with the most listeners in London. Weekly reach has grown 13% with 1.8 million listeners tuning in each week. Whilst Kiss is still 300,000 listeners short of that figure, it’s not only grown its reach by an impressive 16% but it’s also achieved an incredible 56% increase in total listening hours.

LBC London is still king in terms of total listening hours, but has suffered its first loss in hours since this time last year – down 6%. Reach is slightly up by 3% to 1.4 million.

Radio X London has bounced back after a 38% loss in Q3 2019, increasing by 18% in total hours, quarter on quarter. Whilst we’re in the rock arena, Absolute Radio London deserves a big cheer for a rise of 22% in total hours following on from gains last quarter too.

The top 5 stations in London ranked by weekly reach (‘000)

Capital – 1,780

KISS – 1,472

Magic – 1,472

Heart – 1,384

LBC – 1,377

The top 5 stations in London ranked by total listening hours (‘000)

LBC 97.3 – 12,341

Magic – 8,760

KISS – 7,762

Capital – 7,326

Heart – 7,158

Brands by region

Capital

Overall, it’s been a good quarter for the Capital brand which remains strong as ever with the network reaching over 8 million listeners each week. This stations popularity is due mainly to Capital London increasing its total listening hours by 18%, paired with a spike in weekly listeners (up 13%). Capital Birmingham has increased its total listening hours to 2,077,000 per week (up 15%). Listeners are staying tuned into Capital North West and Wales for even longer with an increase in total hours (+34,000) of 4% from the previous quarter.

Welcome to the Party… Capital Mid Counties! The first RAJAR for Global’s latest acquisition of the formerly owned Quidem stations (Touch FM Coventry, Touch FM Staffs, Touch Warwick, Banbury Sound and Rugby FM). This station has a weekly reach of 96,000 listeners, which is 9% of the population within its survey area.

Heart

The love is strong for Heart Four Counties – up 17% in total hours. It’s the highest increase in hours this quarter within the regions, with Heart Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire making a significant contribution to the quarter. Heart Solent is also up quarter and quarter in total hours and up year on year in reach from 337,000 to 349,000.

Smooth

The Smooth brand is growing its weekly audience in the East Midlands, Kent, London, the North East. In particular, Smooth North West and Wales has had a fantastic quarter, reporting a 24% increase in weekly reach, up to 61,000 and a 33% increase in total listening hours.

The biggest total gain in audience across the Smooth Network went to Smooth London which has added an additional 151,000 people to its weekly listenership, now reaching 864,000 – an increase of 21%. This more than makes up for its 10% drop in reach last quarter, up 6% year on year.

This was the first RAJAR for the newly formed Smooth Radio Three Counties – it reported 39,000 weekly listeners, tuning in for an average of 6.1 hours per head. This is one to watch in the future to see how its audience changes across the next 12 months.

Hits Network

It was a game of two halves for Bauer as the Hits Network lost 27,000 listeners on the quarter and Greatest Hits grew by 55,000.

Starting in Scotland, both the Clyde stations smashed it. Clyde 1 is up 4% in reach, quarter on quarter and 9% year on year to a reach of 628,000. Sister station, Clyde 2, was up a whopping 22% in reach in Q4 2019 and now reaches 188,000 each week.

Elsewhere is Scotland, MFR gained an extra 2,000 listener this quarter to 123,000 and, although average hours dropped slightly, listeners still tune in for over 10 hours each week, that a share of 26.2%.

Over in Ireland, listening to Cool FM has been hotting up. A 5% increase sees them reaching over half a million people each week. Total hours were also up 21% to 3.3 million. Downtown Radio are moving up, 20% up to be precise, compared to the last quarter and 10% up year on year to a reach of 264,000.

In England CFM was flat on the quarter but up year on year and now boasting a share of 17.7%.  But Radio Borders has beaten that with a share that is still over 31%.

Finally, there are some encouraging signs at Hits Radio Manchester with reach up 7% quarter on quarter to 264,000 listeners.

XS, Gold & Radio X regional stations

Rock music is proving as popular as ever in Manchester with both XS Manchester and Radio X Manchester reporting strong results. In fact, it has been a fantastic result for XS Manchester in what is likely to be its final set of figures before its planned re-brand to Capital Xtra: up a phenomenal 111% in hours and 44% in reach to 115,000 listeners. Meanwhile, Radio X Manchester’s had a modest 14% increase in reach.

This was the first RAJAR period for Gold Cambridgeshire since its re-brand from Smooth. The re-brand doesn’t seem to have had an impact on its audience though, its total listening hours have stayed completely steady at 299,000. The Gold brand is also staying strong in the East Midlands, with a total of 6,000 more hours per week in this region.

The Local Picture

Weekly reach for all Local Commercial Radio (ILR) in Q4 2019 now sits at 24,346,000 (44%), slightly down quarter on quarter.

There have been some notable local stories; For instance, in Bradford, Pulse 1 is up 49% in total hours – from 663,000 to 985,000 (an increase of 322,000 hours). More Bradford listeners are also tuning in to their local station, with a 28% uplift in reach quarter on quarter.

Over in Stoke-on-Trent, Signal Two has seen an increase of 35% in total hours – from 229,000 to 266,000 hours. Reach is up by 21% quarter on quarter, now listened to by 58,000 listeners every week.

Meanwhile, in Bristol, The Sam brand is up 30% in total hours quarter on quarter – that’s an increase of 79,000 hours.

In the Garden of England, it’s congratulations to KMFM, delivering an increase of 14% in total hours quarter on quarter, smashing through the 1 million total hours mark (from 994,000 to 1,136,000 hours).

Summary

Q4 2019 has seen a solid set of figures from commercial radio, with digital stations leading the way. The diversity of niche stations, formats and programming content means that radio is as popular today as it’s ever been.

If you’d like to know more about how this quarter’s RAJAR results might affect radio advertising, just get in touch with one of our experts.

 

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