In an otherwise good quarter for the radio group, the 00s station registered just 84,000 listeners in the three months to 17 May, down 50.6% on the same period last year and 39.6% on the previous quarter.
A spokeswoman for the radio group says it will review the radio group’s positioning and playlist over fears that it is indistinct from the master Absolute Radio brand. She adds: “It could be that not enough time has passed since the decade and people are not enjoying the same nostalgia trip as they are when listening to Absolute 60s,70s,80s and 90s.” She would not be drawn on whether the review could lead to the station being pulled.
Absolute saw its network of stations – Absolute Radio and its portfolio of nostalgia brands 60s, 70s, 80s as well as 00s – grow 25.2% year-on-year and 5.8% on the previous quarter to 3 million.
The radio group launched a marketing campaign using the strapline “positioning for your curiosity” in January to try and encourage trial of the main station.
Absolute Radio chief operating officer Clive Dickens, described hitting 3 million listeners as a “real milestone” only three years since it rebranded from Virgin Radio.
Elsewhere, Global Radio’s national Capital network registered 7.07 million listeners, up 5% on last year but down 0.4% on the previous quarter.
Its Heart network, however, registered 7.48 million listeners in the period, up 0.7% on last year and 0.3% on the previous quarter.
TalkSport posted 3.23 million listeners in the period, down 0.6% on last year but up 1.2% on the previous quarter.
GMG’s Smooth Radio saw listener numbers increase to 3.31 million, up 7.6% on last year and 0.1% on the previous quarter.
Bauer’s “Place” portfolio of city stations, which includes London’s Magic 105.4, Key 103 in Manchester and Newcastle’s Metro Radio, registered 8.59 million listeners, down 2.3% on last year and 2.2% on the previous quarter. When combined with its Passion portfolio, which includes Kiss in London and Kerrang!, Bauer’s national audience reached 13.3 million in the quarter.
The mixed performances seen by the national commercial networks in the quarter was reflected by figures for the commercial sector, which saw its share of radio listening drop.
Ad-funded station’s share of listeners was 42.3% in the three months to 31 March, down from the 42.6% registered in the same period last year and 42.4% in the previous quarter .
Listener numbers dropped to 33.2 million, down 2.5% on the 34.04 million registered in the same period last year. The total, however, was an improvement on the 32.8 million posted in the final quarter on 2011.
BBC stations’ share of listening fell slightly to 55.5% from 54.5% in the previous quarter but was an improvement on the 55% registered in the same period last year. Listener numbers grew to 34.9 million.
Only Radio 2 of the main stations registered a year-on-year and quarter on quarter increase, up 0.2% and 2.1% respectively to 14.56 million.
Recently crowned Radio Station Of The Year at the Sony awards, Six Music continued to add listeners, up 12.1% year-on-year and 0.8% on the previous quarter to 1.45 million.
Overall, fewer people listened to radio stations in the first quarter. The 46.67 million registered in the quarter matched the total posted in the last three months of 2011 but was down 1.2% on same period last year.