Rajar Analysis: A look at the Q1 2011 results

With the announcement that today's Rajars see a record number of people listening to radio in the UK, Daniel Ward, director of Brilliant Media explores what the results mean for radio stations across the UK.

Well it’s that date in May again when programmers laud RAJAR (and earn their bonus) or dismiss RAJAR as being flawed and look towards the next set of figures to justify their decisions. This is the time when every single radio group has performed magnificently well, at least according to their own spin and the many of the emails which hit my in box this morning. Even Yorkshire Radio appears to have managed to continue to broadcast to that same old 80 plus bearded man who looks like Santa Claus plus a rather impressive another 74,000 people who I’m sure are much younger.

Great to see over 26% of all listening is via a digital platform and the people having access via DAB increasing so much year on year, particularly good to see listening via the internet rising so much, there is definitely room for advertisers to make much more of this potentially powerful communication vehicle and deliver integrated messages.

People who have ever listened via a mobile phone is an interesting figure, the number has dropped in the 15-24 age range and increased 10% in the 25+ market, but then again everyone is a year older.

In fact on the face of it these results look very positive for the Radio industry, record reach and time listening is great for all those involved; especially in the commercial sector when it keeps chipping away at the BBC. I’m not too sure about Radio 2’s continued good performance when some commercial radio is putting a lot of focus on charming these lucrative listeners away from the aunty beeb.

The Talksport offices must be a good place this week given their success at the Sony awards and the massive (37.2%) q on q increases seen in these results, ultimately a good payoff for their increased investment in live football this season. It shows that getting a listener in specifically for a game, giving them an experience they enjoy, will lead to increases across the board. Not exactly a new phenomenon, but done well in this case has upset the Five Live audience this season. All will be happy at Classic FM HQ as well this morning with significantly increased reach to nearly 6.1m, again David Suchet and the rest of the new look set up is showing how investment in talent can pay dividends.

Overall the Bauer renamed Place and Passion portfolios are still demonstrating huge reach with 13.4m adults tuning in every week, although I am sure they would have been happier with a few more hours. A brave and expensive ‘Place’ strategy needs to keep the Place portfolio in number 1 spot in the individual stations TSA which they’ve managed in the vast majority of areas; however magic London has lost ground over its major rivals losing listeners and a whole share point q on q. Kiss remained flat in London whilst nationally saw some reasonable gains . The Bauer digital stations will all be impressed with the yearly growth on all five stations.

People don’t like change, although I’m sure it could have been worse though - Capitals reach figures are down q on q on some rebranded stations but a 218,000 (11%) listener increase in London has helped flatten those losses for the network. As it settles downs and becomes a stable and recognised brand, the Heart network didn’t quite produce the steady gains nationally as we might have expected. By losing 4% of listeners and a significant chunk of market share 0.6% point – it’s like losing Heart East Anglia!

Positive news for the ‘up for sale or are we’ Guardian Media Radio Group although with the investment in Smooth they may have expected better than par reach figures nationally, although a great result in London puts the reach figures up by 38% q on q to 643,000. Real performed better giving the network their highest ever audience reach figures of nearly 2.5m.

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