After a drop in previous years, Radio 4’s audience crept up, from 10.4 million twelve months ago to 10.9 million today. Even the Today programme got a boost, despite threats of a boycott from listeners who claim to be exasperated by the show’s political coverage. Today has added an extra 371-thousand listeners giving it a weekly audience of just over 7-million. BBC Radio 5 Live meanwhile has gained an extra half million listeners, giving it a weekly reach of 5.4 million.
Commercial radio has followed suit. LBC for example rose to a new high of 2.7 million listeners, up by more than half a million from the previous year. The presenter so many of us love to hate, Nick Ferrari, now has over 1.5 million listeners. TalkRADIO meanwhile, whilst it has a smaller share of the market has seen a 40% surge, year on year, to 433-thousand listeners a week. Never shy about being controversial, in our experience, talkRADIO covers a wide array of topics and we’re always pleased to see it on one of our radio day schedules.
How have changing broadcast habits affected listening figures?
Broadcast habits for many audiences are changing, driven particularly by young people, so it’s not surprising to hear that more music based stations are being hit the hardest. BBC Radio 1, which targets 15 to 29 year olds, has lost over half a million listeners and it’s thought they’ve moved to commercial radio stations and streaming services.
Radio 2 attracted the biggest headlines when these latest RAJAR figures were released. Zoe Ball, who replaced Chris Evans in the breakfast show seat when he moved to Virgin, attracted an additional 335-thousand listeners, a slight reversal of fortunes for the programme which lost over a million listeners over the previous two quarters. With the help of Evans, Virgin Radio is up 8% with a record 1.76m tuning in.
One of the most interesting reflections from these latest figures is the way digital listening is growing. Traditional ways of listening to radio, such as AM and FM, are on the decline and digital listening has gone up from 52% to 58%. The number has been boosted by more digital radios in new cars, smart speakers and people listening via a mobile phone.
How does this changing landscape affect broadcast PR?