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More people skipping breakfast, new RAJAR figures show

By | Published on Thursday 24 October 2019


Oh man, has it been three months already? Can it really be time to look at the kind of made up RAJAR figures yet again and try to work out what they mean? Apparently, yes. So I’d best try to pull five things of significance out of the very latest radio listening stats for this here United Kingdom and tell you about them. Here are five things…

1. Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 breakfast show is down, down, down. She shed 364,000 weekly listeners in the last quarter. Along with the 780,000 she lost in Q2, she’s just recorded the show’s worst listening figures for a decade. Have they all gone to listen to the show’s old presenter Chris Evans over on Virgin Radio? Well, no. While he does have more than a million listeners, he only added about 3000 in the last three months. Actually, breakfast shows on music stations are having a rough time across the board, with signs that listeners are simply switching off altogether. Soundtrack your cornflakes with a Spotify playlist, maybe? Or is the ongoing Brexit shambles turning everyone into breakfast time news junkies?

2. It was a good quarter for commercial radio, with the sector recording its highest share of listeners for 20 years, with 35.9 million tuning in to non-BBC stations. Listening hours are up too, 5.3% year-on-year, with these stations accounting for 48.1% of total listening hours. “With radio continuing to hold the nation’s attention against increasing competition in the news and entertainment sectors, it’s great that commercial radio continues to grow audience”, reckons Siobhan Kenny, boss of the commercial sector’s trade group Radiocentre.

3. Whether you think radio is “continuing to hold the nation’s attention” depends on how pessimistic you want to be. There was, after all, a slip in the total number of listening hours over the last quarter, from 1 billion down to 989 million. But that’s not a dramatic shift, perhaps. The average listener still tunes in to radio for 20.4 hours a week.

4. Radio listening through digital channels continues to boom, with another record-breaking quarter. Digital platforms of various kinds now make up 56.8% of all listening as people continue to switch over to digital radio sets and online, and increasingly listen through smart speakers and via apps. DAB takes up 70% of all digital listening, but people accessing radio through internet connected devices is up more than 35% year-on-year. It was accessing through a digital TV that really let the side down though, with a 15% drop year-on-year.

5. Many digital-only stations saw boosts to their listening figures. Kisstory enjoyed a decent jump that allowed it to extend its lead over BBC Radio 6 Music as the most popular station with no AM or FM broadcast. 6 Music remains relatively static in terms of listeners. Absolute 80s, Heart 80s and Mellow Magic all also saw significantly increased listener numbers by percentage.

So, there you are. Some things to think about until January when we do this all again.

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