Listener figures down but digital radio on the rise

Rajar: The number of people listening to radio each week has dropped in the past three months, according to the latest Rajar data, but digital radio is growing steadily.

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The percentage of people tuning in to radio each week fell to 90.7% in the three months to the end of September, a slight decline from 91.7% in the previous quarter.

The number of listeners fell to 47.1 million, down from 47.6 million in the previous quarter but up from 46.8 million in the same period last year.

Audiences, however, are tuning in for longer. Total listening hours were up 2% year on year to 1.1 million per week.

Commercial radio’s share of audiences fell to 43.3% with 33.7m people tuning in to commercial stations each week during the period, a decline from 34 million in the previous quarter

The BBC saw its share of audience increase to 54.5% but saw listener numbers drop to 34.8 million, from 35.5 million in the previous quarter.

Elsewhere, the percentage of audiences listening via digital platforms increased to 28.2%, up from 26.9% in the previous quarter and 24.8% a year earlier. Digital listening hours reached 300 million for first time.

Audiences listening to radio via mobile devices also reached its highest ever point at 15.8% of all adults tuning in through mobiles each week.

Ford Ennals, chief executive of Digital Radio UK, says the gains illustrate the  “irresistible momentum behind digital listening”.

He adds: “With the increases in coverage and availability in cars, the remarkable progress of Radioplayer http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/disciplines/data-strategy/radio-brands-team-up-for-online-service/3025506.article and with a major communications campaign about to start, we would expect digital radio listening to accelerate towards 30%.”

BBC Radio 2 remains the nation’s most listened to station reaching 14.3 million listeners, an increase of 2.5% on the previous quarter, while Heart remains the most listened to commercial network despite a 0.5% decline in reach to 7.6m listeners.

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