TalkSport nets extra listeners

Rajar: UTV’s TalkSport marked an impressive quarter in the first three months of 2011, despite a lack of international tournaments, illustrating the growth of talk radio formats.

Keys and Grey
Andy Gray and Richard Keys

The station increased listeners by 37.2% to its biggest ever audience of 3.25 million in the three months to March and is up 5.2% for the year.

TalkSport signed up Andy Gray and Richard Keys, the former Sky Sports pundits embroiled in January’s sexism row, for a new daily lunch time show in February.

Rival news and sport station, BBC 5 Live also made gains in the year and was up 2.7% for the period to 6.65 million listeners, but is down 6.2% for the quarter. Its breakfast show, hosted by Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden was down in the period to 2.74 million listeners.

Elsewhere, BBC Radio 4 reached a record average weekly audience of 10.83 million listeners, up 8% year on year and 4.9% for the quarter.

The station was buoyed by international news stories such as the Japanese tsunami and its biggest ever weekday audience for its long-running soap The Archers.

Sister station Radio 2 maintained its position as the country’s most listened to station, increasing listener numbers to 14.53 million, up 4.3% on the previous quarter but down 0.2% year on year.

The station’s breakfast show host Chris Evans, who took the reins from Terry Wogan after he stepped down last year, added 464,000 listeners in the quarter to 9.18m, but the programme’s reach is also down year on year. Chris Evans will be hosting the Marketing Week Engage Awards on Tuesday 24 May.

Rival BBC breakfast show host, Radio 1’s Chris Moyles, also increased early morning listeners in the quarter, by 65,000 to 7.52 million, but is also down year on year.

Radio 1’s overall audience was up 3.5% for the quarter to 11.82 million.

BBC’s 6 Music, which was under threat of closure last year, marked its biggest ever audience figure, up 14.1% for the quarter and 26.8% year on year to 1.3 million listeners.

The BBC increased its share of the radio market to 55% and listeners were up 1.6% in the quarter to 35 million.

Despite a small rise in audience figures, the BBC lost 2% of its prime demographic of listeners aged between 15-44.

Commercial radio’s reach increased 3% in the quarter to 34 million. Year on year reach increased 5.9% but share shared stayed flat at 42.6%, up from 42.5% in the previous quarter.

National commercial radio also increased its reach to listeners between 15-44, which were up 1% in the quarter to 18.6m and up 3.1% year on year.

Global Radio’s Heart Network was the most listened to national commercial radio station in the first three months of the year, despite a loss of 4% in the quarter to 7.44 million listeners.

Sister network Capital, which went nationwide in January, commanded an audience of 6.71 million listeners but was down 0.8% on the quarter.

Bauer Radio’s Heat made the greatest gains of the quarter among commercial radio stations. It was up 12.4% in the three months to March and up 40% year on year to 626,000 listeners.

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