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Q4 2013 Rajar figures show BBC Radio listenership up with Capital remaining commercial favourite


By Gillian West, Social media manager

February 6, 2014 | 5 min read

BBC Radio and Global Radio have triumphed in the latest round of Rajar figures with BBC Radio stations recording 36.22 million listeners and Global’s Capital Radio remaining the commercial favourite.

According to the figures, which cover the period from September 16 to December 15 2013, BBC Radio listenership across its stations was up on the previous figures. 35.19 million last year and 35.11 million in the previous quarter. BBC Radio’s share against its commercial competitors did, however, fall slightly to 55.2 per cent compared to 55.3 per cent last year and 53.4 per cent last quarter. BBC Radio 4 showed a weekly reach of 11.21 million, up from 10.87 million in the last quarter. BBC Radio 1 was down slightly compared with last year from 11.09 million listeners to 10.87 million listeners, though breakfast DJ Nick Grimshaw added 700,000 listeners during the quarter. “We are a nation of audiophiles and so, despite the ever-increasing competition for people’s time and the growing range of online audio providers, radio is thriving in the digital age. I’m delighted that the BBC’s distinctive portfolio of stations is proving so enduringly popular and helping the UK radio industry go from strength to strength,” said Helen Boaden, BBC director of Radio.
Global Radio’s London FM stations were down in listener numbers this quarter, but the Capital Network remained the most listened to commercial station. Nationally both Heart and Capital reported a fall in listeners, though Capital remained the bigger network of the two with 200,000 more listeners. Heart South West and Heart Sussex posted notable increases. Classic FM increased its listenership by 300,000, and Capital XTRA was up from 839,000 listeners last quarter to 854,000 this quarter. LBC 97.3 gained close to 60,000 listeners, with 20.7 million people in total tuning into one of Global’s eight radio networks each week. In Scotland, The Capital Breakfast Show with Des & Jennie celebrated its highest ever reach with 336,000 listeners weekly and 552,000 tuning into Capital Scotland each week, an increase of 84,000 listeners on the same period last year. Ashley Tabor, founder and executive president at Global, deemed the results as “fantastic”.
Bauer’s Passion Portfolio recorded its highest reach with 10 million adults listening weekly, with the newly acquired Absolute Radio Network reaching 3.5 million listeners, adding 250,000 additional pairs of ears. Absolute Radio 80s held strong as the number one commercial digital station up 33 per cent year-on-year with hours up 27 per cent year-on-year and 1.2 million listeners. Nationally Kiss reached over 5 million adults per week and reported its highest share and total hours, with Kiss London named the second most popular commercial station in the capital reaching 1.83 million listeners. Digitally Kisstory reached 927,000 listeners per week with heat radio recording 714,000 listeners. Bauer’s Place Portfolio’s reach was recorded at 8.8 million adults per week, with Magic 105.4 attracting 1.8 million listeners in London. Glasgow and the West’s Clyde1 reached over half a million listeners with 580,000 recorded, Manchester’s Key 103 had its best performance since Q1 2006, up 11 per cent year-on-year to 570,000, Metro Radio in Newcastle was up nine per cent year-on-year to 450,000. Group MD, Place, Northern England and Scotland, Graham Bryce, called it a “very strong Rajar for the Portfolio,” adding “we’re in a great position to continue our upward trajectory for the remainder of 2014.”
In what could be one of the last Rajar’s for Real Radio – the group was bought by Global almost two years ago and following wrangling’s with the Competition Commission is in a state of flux and currently in a hold steady with an announcement on the future of the group expected soon – every station in the network recorded a drop in listeners. Real Radio’s stations in Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire, North East and the North West were all down in weekly reach. Real XS, however, was up to 70,000 listeners in Glasgow and 150,000 in Manchester. Smooth Radio, which is now networked from Global Radio in London, gained more listeners in Glasgow and the West Midlands and Smooth Radio North West recorded figures of 900,000. In the East Midlands, London and North East the Smooth brand lost listeners and Smooth 70s, which was axed in September, reached 804,000 listeners across the UK before closing. Of the results Carat’s head of radio, Michael Williamson, said the “strong position in terms of consumption for the last couple of years” was driven by “investments being made by the radio station owners”. He continued: “They have been busy investing in new platforms, new stations and attracting the best talent. This creates brands that listeners can fully engage with.”Digital Platforms and app downloads were also praised by Williamson as central to success. “Listeners are interacting with radio brands that give them a platform to voice their point of view, whether that is through talk radio, social media or a phone in competition. Music streaming services are great for music content but they do not have the personal feel that radio has always offered. And this has become more and more significant through the growth of digital platforms and social media opportunities,” he said.
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