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MediaCT Light Bites: Radio listening reaches record high

MediaCT Light Bites: Radio listening reaches record high
Ipsos MediaCT Light Bites

The new RAJAR figures released on Thursday 5th August (Q2 2010) make for interesting reading. There are more people than ever listening to the radio – a massive 46.8 million of us listen to the radio during an average week, that’s 91% of the UK population aged 15 and over.

Listeners amassed just over 1 billion radio listening hours in the three months from March to June this year which is the highest since the third quarter of 2007.

It’s been a strong period for Commercial radio which has increased their share of these hours from 41.3% in Quarter 1 to 43.2% in the latest results, meaning the share for the BBC has declined from 56.5% to 54.6%.

It’s possible that a summer of sport, however disappointing from an English point of view, may have helped with the record breaking results. With a World Cup and a rain free Wimbledon, the two main sport stations – BBC’s 5 Live and talkSPORT – have increased their reach by four and six percentage points respectively. Meanwhile BBC 6 Music is still on the rise following the successful campaign to avert the closure of the station, and has added 200,000 listeners to their Quarter 1 reach of 1 million, while also adding an extra 2 million hours.

Looking at specific markets, BBC Radio 2 continues to be the most popular station in the country, 13.7 million people tune in during an average week, and Radio 4 is once again the top station in London with 2.7 million listeners cornering 15.8% of the market. Heart 106.2FM comes in second in terms of listeners, reporting an audience of 2.2 million in an average week, however Magic 105.4 outperforms Heart when comparing market share: 6.4% compared to 5.1% - market share is calculated on total hours. In the Commercial breakfast show battle, 95.8 Capital FM retains its spot as number one in London with the highest reported audience, followed by Heart 106.2 FM then Kiss 100FM in third place.

Talking of breakfast shows, we see a, perhaps expected, decline in listening for Radio 2’s Chris Evans – last quarter his breakfast show reported a record 9.5 million listeners in the first RAJAR after taking over from Terry Wogan at the start of the year. In Quarter 2 however, the average weekly audience has returned to levels previously experienced under Wogan, 8.5 million, but still however he is the country’s most popular breakfast DJ.

The drive towards digital radio continues and listening via these platforms has again shown growth. In fact, digital listening now accounts for a quarter of all hours listened, which is an increase of one percentage point from the previous period. Weekly reach on digital platforms has increased to 38.7% broken down as follows: 23.5% of listeners tune in on DAB, 13.1% by DTV and 8.2% on the internet. As the most popular digital platform, the Quarter 2 data also show that 35.2% of all UK households, that’s 18.2 million, now have a DAB set.

So, on the whole, there is a pretty decent showing from radio this RAJAR period. With Commercial radio experiencing their traditional midyear upsurge in listening after the long cold winter of listening to BBC local stations, can this be pressed home over the next few months? Will the move towards a more digitized listener base continue? And what will happen in the developing national and London Breakfast show ratings? All questions that will be answered when the Quarter 3 results come out at the end of October.

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About this blog

Ipsos MediaCT "helps clients make connections in the digital age". We do this through an in-depth understanding of how consumers access media content inside and outside of the home. In addition to our monthly Bite-Sized Thought Piece publications, Light Bites provides our reactions to the latest media research industry developments.

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