RAJARs: Commercial radio posts strong quarter, as it hits 40

National commercial radio station audiences are up year-on-year, with the collective audience size of the medium up by almost a tenth in the last 12 months, according to the latest RAJAR results, as UK national commercial radio turns 40.  


The growth of national commercial radio stations such as Absolute, Capital and Kiss, far outstripped that of BBC stations such as Five Live and Radio 1 with the formers’ total audience numbers growing 8.3 per cent year on year, compared to the latter’s 1.3 per cent growth. 

Approximately 17.4 million listeners tuned-in to national commercial radio stations during the quarter (giving it an audience share of 13.5 per cent), with total audiences for the BBC’s national radio stations numbering 35.1 million (giving it a total audience share of 53.4 per cent).    

Notably, younger audiences (i.e. the lucrative 15-44 age bracket that is highly sought after by advertisers) are tuning-in to commercial radio stations in bigger numbers.

A total of 18.6 million people within this age bracket listened to national commercial radio stations during the quarter – an increase of 5 per cent from 12 months earlier, giving stations such as Absolute Radio and Kiss UK, etc, a 57 per cent audience share of this demographic. 

Among the top-performing nation commercial radio brands were: Heart, whose total reach was 7.6 million (up 3.1 per cent year on year); Capital, whose total audience size numbered 7.7 million during the period (up 12.6 per cent from a year earlier). 

In terms of year on year improvement, Sunrise was the most improved national commercial radio station (audiences up 38 per cent to 556,000), followed by Planet Rock (up 37.8 per cent to 12 million) and Absolute 80s (up 35.1 per cent to 1.2 million. 

Meanwhile, local commercial radio station numbers also grew significantly during the period. Local commercial station numbers hit 27.4 million during the period, an increase of 3.7 per cent during the period. 

Today’s latest RAJAR figures show almost 90 per cent of the UK population above the age of 15 (47.7 million) tuned into a radio in the three months to15 September, with total radio listener numbers up by 1 million compared to this time last year. 

The average listener consumed on average of 21.5 hours of radio content each week during the period, with the total audience for national radio stations up 2.2 per cent year on year to 47.7 million (although this was down 1.4 per cent quarter on quarter). 

The figures also show just over half (51 per cent) the UK listening to radio via a digital format each week, up 13 per cent year on year, fuelled mainly by the consumption via connected devices. 

Digital listening hours were up 14 per cent year on year, from 320 million in Q3 2012 to 366 million in Q3 2013. DAB remains the most popular device for digital listening – representing 65 per cent of all digital hours. The statistics also show 24 million adults have access to a DAB digital radio, up 10 per cent year on year.

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