Ashes lifts talk radio

Rajar: England’s Ashes victory and a competitive Premier League title race helped boost talk radio stations in the final quarter of 2010, according to Rajar.

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The BBC’s news and sport station Five Live registered 7.09 million listeners in the three months to 31 December, up 12.7% on the previous quarter and 16.2% on last year.

UTV’s TalkSport had 3.08 million listeners, a 4.3% increase on the third quarter and up 23.7% on the same period last year.

Elsewhere, BBC Radio 2 maintained its position as the country’s most listened to station, increasing listener numbers to 13.9 million, up 1.9% on the previous quarter and 3.5% on last year.

The station was boosted by the performance of Chris Evans’ breakfast show, which added 305,000 listeners in the quarter to register an audience of 8.7 million.

Sister station Radio 1 lost listeners in the quarter, down 1.9% to 11.4 million. Year on year, however, listenership increased 6.1%.

The station’s breakfast show host Chris Moyles added 353,000 listeners in the quarter to reach an audience of 7.45 million despite his on-air rant about pay just before the start of the period.

6 Music saw recent growth reverse, registering a 4.9% dip in listeners to 1.14 million. The station, however, was still up 63.6% on the same period last year when it faced the axe and found hundreds of thousands of new listeners.

GMG Radio’s Smooth Radio, which became a national station in October, will be buoyed by the performance of its UK network. Reach increased 1% on the previous quarter and 14.5% on the same period last year to 3.08 million.

Commercial radio’s recent gain in share of the radio market was reversed, dropping to 42.5% from 43.4% in the previous quarter and 42.6% in the same period last year.

Ad-funded stations’ share of 15-44 year old listeners was 53.3%, down from 54.5% in the previous quarter but up slightly on the 53.2% registered in same period last year.

Commercial radio’s reach dipped 0.9% on the previous quarter to 33.5 million. Year on year, however, reach increased 5.4%.

The BBC increased its share to 55.3%, and listener numbers to 34.5 million.

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