An Olympic RAJAR Round Up


Written by Daniel Read, Associate Director, and Carolyn Critchlow, Buying Manager at OMD UK.

Q2 2012 RAJAR data has been released, throwing out the usual ‘Bradley Wiggins’ highs and ‘Mark Cavendish’ lows! Here’s the scoop:

46.8m adults tune in to radio every week, that’s a huge 89% of the UK adult population. For those of you who follow these results closely, you’ll know that this is a slight dip year-on-year, losing 800,000 listeners. It’s important to remember that over the last few quarters we’ve seen significant growth in radio listening, with more people tuning in than ever before. On that basis, a slight decline was expected and the year-on-year comparison is by no means alarming. A reach of 89% is clearly an enormous number of people.  To put it into context, Google is the UK’s most visited website and only reaches 33.9m adults monthly whilst Facebook only reaches 26.8m UK adults monthly. Radio reaches 46.8m adults weekly!  Alongside this great reach, total listening hours remains strong, achieving over a billion hours every week; an average of 22.1 hours of engagement time per week, per listener.

Although the BBC and Commercial Radio industry continue to work together, as with the RadioPlayer project, the battle for market share is still as heavily fought as ever.  This quarter, Commercial Radio fights back with a strong performance across their national offering, helping all Commercial Radio to reach 33m adults every week (63% of the population­), achieving a 43% share of listening along the way. The BBC have lost a staggering 29m hours quarter-on-quarter, accounting for their 0.9% drop in share of listening to 54%. On average, over 34m adults now tune in to the BBC every week, listening for 16 hours each.

The gold medal performance of this quarter goes to Absolute Radio which has seen an increase in both reach and hours across their network; a huge 10% increase in reach year-on-year and 3% increase in hours. They attribute this to the breakfast show which has seen an increase in listeners, as well as their coverage of the UEFA European Championships 2012. Talking of the Euro’s, talkSPORT (who had a fair few eggs in the Euro’s basket) saw a 10% decline in reach, both year-on-year and quarter-on quarter. This may simply show that their Premier League coverage attracts more listeners than their Euro’s coverage did. We’d expect them to bounce back next quarter!

Another successful RAJAR for the Capital Network with the most positive results coming out of the regional offerings, noticeably Capital Birmingham and Capital Scotland, the latter recording its highest ever reach by adding 35,000 new weekly listeners and 300,000 hours. This is the first RAJAR for the Free Radio network;  the rebranded Mercia, Wyvern, BRMB and Beacon. On the whole it was a positive one, launching with over 700,000 listeners, up by a tenth year-on-year. Another network which didn’t fair quite so well was Magic, down 22% year-on-year to 23m hours every week.  On a more positive note for Magic’s owner Bauer, both their Passion and Place portfolios have seen a strong increase in hours this quarter, with particular success for the Passion portfolio which achieved an increase in weekly reach to 6.6m adults.

The whole commercial market struggled in London. Nearly all stations have seen declines in reach, with the only really positive news stories being the 22% increase for Absolute Radio (FM) and Gold London who saw their audience rise 24% quarter-on-quarter. 95.8 Capital FM remains the number one breakfast show in London and they have a Usain Bolt lead, reaching over 1m adults every week, followed by Magic London with 760,000. Despite a photo finish, Heart London (734,000) lose the bronze medal to Kiss 100 who reach 735,000. Absolute Radio’s Christian O’Connell has seen significant growth in his breakfast show with 674,000 adults tuning in every week (27% increase quarter-on-quarter).

Radio’s reach via listening through a digital platform has increased 10% year-on-year, with over 24m people now tuning in via either a DAB set, DTV, the internet or a mobile phone each week (up from 22m in Q2 2011). Online Listening has seen a 37% increase in hours year-on-year. We attribute this largely to the success of RadioPlayer, the online listening tool which combines all UK radio stations on one easy-to-use platform. Despite this online growth, DAB radio continues to retain its position as the most popular digital platform, with a fifth of all radio listening being consumed via this platform. 42% of adults now claim to own a DAB set at home.

Following the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards at the beginning of last month, it’s clear to see why Absolute Radio had so much joy; the success of the station over this quarter helped them pick up awards for Station of the Year (over 1m TSA), Feature of the Year and Specialist Programme of the Year. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the next RAJAR, naturally, summer listening tends to dip slightly. However, following the support and specialist programming on Commercial Radio around the Olympics this summer, we might just be in for a nice surprise!


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