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RAJAR figures highlight the march of digital

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By John Glenday, Reporter

February 2, 2012 | 3 min read

The latest round of RAJAR stats have highlighted the growing clout of digital as the sector continues to claim a growing share of all radio listeners.

Over the year the proportion of listeners making use of digital formats rose by a mammoth 16.4% to take its total market share to 29.1% - according to figures published today.

If the share of listeners who make use of a digital platform at least once a week is also included then that figure rises further, to 49.4% or around 23m people.

Although both internet radio, now 3.4% of the market, and digital TV, 4.5% of the market, have recorded healthy gains the main factor fuelling this growth has been the growing popularity of DAB radios which now command 71% of all listening.

Ford Ennals, Chief Executive of Digital Radio UK, said: “This is a milestone moment for digital radio and demonstrates that the direction of travel for radio in the UK is digital.”

But to what use are all these radios being put? Buried in the stats lie some tell tale nuggets with the BBC notching up their weekly digital reach to over a million led by Radio 4 Extra up 65%, 6 Music +27%, and 1 Xtra +25%.

In the commercial sector the Vodafone Big Top 40 has been crowned as the country's top chart show, pulling in 2.5m listeners every week, making Global’s Director of Broadcasting, Richard Park, a very happy man: “I’m delighted to see The Big Top 40 is still the nation’s favourite chart show, and continues to beat its rivals by over a million listeners!”

talkSPORT meanwhile is celebrating its highest ever reach for the fourth quarter since the station launched with 3.2m listeners, an increase of 2% quarter on quarter.

Reacting to the numbers Moz Dee, talkSPORT Programme Director and Sony Programmer of the Year, said: “Continued investment in our product of live sports rights and talent is clearly paying off. We were the only place to hear the biggest sporting tournament of last year - the 2011 Rugby World Cup and it’s great news that the event proved a draw for listeners.”

Meanwhile Smooth Radio grew its listener numbers by 7.2%, prompting GMG Radio Chief Executive Stuart Taylor to comment: “To grow our listener number by 7.2% year on year in a competitive and volatile environment, is a fantastic result, confirming not only the appetite for Smooth Radio`s unique sound but also the strength of the Real Radio brand.”

In the regional market Capital FM retained its crown as London’s number one music station with 2.3m weekly listeners whilst Clyde One and Forth One, 341,000 listeners per week, retain their top slots in both Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively.

Graham Bryce, Managing Director Bauer Radio Scotland, said: “After strong growth over the past year, this was a consolidating quarter for the Bauer Radio Scotland portfolio, with all stations retaining their market leading position.

“Our strategy of ensuring the most potent mix of compelling and engaging content, more hit music, showbiz and entertainment, that is locally focused and driven by the best personalities is proving once more, to connect with audiences better than our competitors as we continue to extend our lead in every marketplace across Scotland.”

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