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RAJAR round-up: Commercial radio gets a boost in Q1 figures

By | Published on Thursday 19 May 2022


It’s RAJAR time! Who doesn’t like RAJAR time? It’s like Christmas, but four times a year and not in any way festive. Who here doesn’t want to know how radio stations are faring in the UK though? Specifically over the last three months.

Given that, apparently, you’re all still very committed radio listeners, I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know how all the stations you love so much are getting on. Well, I can’t guarantee I’ll get to your favourite, but here are five takeaways from the official Q1 UK radio listening figures…

1. RAJAR reckons that 50 million adults in the UK are still regularly tuning in to the radio, and 67.9% of the time they’re doing that via digital means.

41.1% of that is through the DAB digital radio network, but online listening is on the up and is now at 22.4%. For the first time this quarter RAJAR reported smart speaker listening on its own, as well as as part of online listening. Those speakers now make up 10% of all listening, so just under half of all online listening.

For commercial radio, 72% of listeners are doing so through some kind of digital platform, while the BBC still holds onto more analogue listeners, with 65% going digital.

2. Commercial radio has scored its biggest ever audience share, with 37.2 million people. That’s more than three million people more than the BBC. Commercial’s share of listening time is also up slightly – 48.4%, up from 48%. The BBC fell slightly in terms of listening time, but is still in the lead there.

3. The bulk of commercial radio’s boost comes from media firm Global, it having scored its best ever results for reach, hours and share across its whole portfolio of stations. In total, it had 25.8 million weekly listeners, 242 million hours and 24% share.

That’s not just because it’s got loads of stations either. It has the top three commercial stations in the country – Heart, Capital and Smooth – and the top two commercial breakfast shows with Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden on Heart, and Roman Kemp on Capital.

That said, Capital did actually see listener numbers fall across its network, and particularly in London. And another Global station, Radio X, saw listeners fall by over 8%, dropping below two million.

4. Over at the BBC, both Radio 1 and Radio 2 saw listening numbers down on the final quarter of 2021. Radio 1 brought in 8.35 million listeners, compared to 8.97 million in Q4, while Radio 2 went from 14.87 million to 14.57 million.

Both stations also saw listeners of their breakfast shows drop. Though minor fluctuations, perhaps. And Radio 1 would probably like me to point out that listeners under the age of ten aren’t counted.

5. If you want a good news story for the BBC, 6 Music is usually pretty reliable. And it certainly is in this batch of RAJARs, having grown by 9% last quarter, with new record listener numbers of 2.85 million listeners. As the station marks its 20th birthday, it’s probably worth shaking your head and saying, “Remember that time they were going to shut that down?”

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