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Rise in smartphone and tablet radio listening drives BBC Radio 6 Music to highest ever audience, Rajars reveal

By Angela Haggerty | Reporter

October 23, 2014 | 4 min read

Radio listening via a smartphone or tablet app helped drive BBC Radio 6 Music to its highest ever audience in the third quarter of 2014, according to latest figures.

BBC Radio 6 Music

Figures: BBC Radio 6 Music has recorded its highest audience

The digital-only station – which was saved from closure in 2010 after a backlash - recorded 1.99m listeners in Q3 2014 according to Rajar figures, and more than a quarter (27 per cent) of listening came via a smartphone or tablet app, a record much higher than the industry average of 6.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 4 (including 4 Extra) improved its reach by 1.2 per cent to 10.9m, overtaking BBC Radio 1, which saw a drop in reach of 2.5 per cent to 10.6m.

Overall according to Rajar, 89 per cent of the UK adult population tuned into radio each week, a decrease by more than 45,000 a week compared to the same quarter last year.

Global Radio – which owns stations including Capital London, Heart and Smooth - maintained a strong performance of more than 21.2m listeners per week, increasing reach by 4.1 per cent over the last year.

Its Capital London station increased market share, while Heart recorded a reach of 9.1m. Smooth recorded a record 4.7m weekly listeners.

Ashley Tabor, founder and executive president of Global, said: “This is proving to be a fantastic year for Global, with more listeners tuning into our brands than any other, and that is testament to the hard work and dedication of every single Globaler working across all our brands.”

Meanwhile, Bauer Media saw digital listening across its portfolio increase further over the 50 per cent mark from 50.8 per cent in Q2 to 52 per cent in Q3.

Listening across all brands increased to 17.1m, up 11.3 per cent year-on-year, while Absolute Radio’s audience – which Bauer acquired last year – was up by 18.2 per cent year on year to more than four million listeners. Kiss recorded an increase of five per cent to 4.9m, while Magic rose slightly to 3.5 million (up one per cent).

Bauer recently announced a commercial overhaul which will simplify its range of radio brands for the market and refocus its offering around Magic, Kiss and Absolute Radio as its three core brands.

Analysing the latest figures, Carat head of radio Michael Williamson said: “A steady yet satisfying set of Rajar results. Consolidation distorts year-on-year figures to the increases on Heart, Smooth and the Bauer Passion portfolio were to be expected.

“But this hides a few impressive station achievements. The newly branded Heart stations are all showing impressive early signs, and Smooth London is clearly benefiting from the momentum being put behind the national Smooth brand following the Gold re-brands.

“Absolute 80s, Absolute 90s and Heat are at record highs. This shows that there is a clear demand for digital-only stations, which bodes well for the new D2 multiplex.”

In July, Arqiva, Bauer Radio and UTV came together to bid for a licence to launch a second DAB multiplex.

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