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Arthur Perkins
Arthur Perkins
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Blog Post

RAJAR Q4 2017 – figures proving radio is here to stay

Arthur Perkins
Arthur Perkins
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The latest RAJAR figures are out and it looks like good news for breakfast shows. For those of you not in the know, RAJAR stands for Radio Joint Audience Research and it’s the official body in charge of measuring radio audiences in the UK; the organisation is jointly owned by the BBC and Radiocentre, on behalf of the commercial sector.

The RAJAR Audio Survey is designed to provide context and insight into how, when and where audio content is being consumed within this liberated environment. The figures include device usage, activities, location and who listened. Podcasts, live and catch up radio and on-demand music services are all wrapped up in the numbers.

It is always interesting from a broadcast PR perspective to see each quarter how stations have fluctuated and analyse the shifts. This last period wraps up the end of 2017 and we can look forward to what to expect in 2018.

The standout figures from the recent data have to be a boost in breakfast show listenership. In the last blog I wrote around radio figures, I lamented the huge losses in reach that Nick Grimshaw’s flagship BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show was experiencing, whilst lauding the gains that early morning rival Chris Moyles was getting for his Radio X Breakfast Show.

Whilst Moyles has posted a record audience for his show, as the station hits its biggest reach ever, Grimshaw has also seen a big revival in figures. He attracted 6.16 million listeners, the biggest weekly reach in two years and has increased from 5.29 million last quarter and 5.82m last year, according to the latest figures. Moyles’ audience grew by nearly a third in 2017 to 910,000 listeners a week, and the station overall has hit 1.6m for the first time. He has seen his audience grow for the last seven quarters.

So these figures suggest that there is room for the two, rather than purely them competing for the same pot.

But to put these numbers into context:  without question they are impressive figures, but the rise is seen almost across the board for radio,especially at breakfast time.  At breakfast, the main five BBC networks have all increased reach compared with last quarter, as have the major commercial outlets, including Absolute, Classic FM, Kiss, Magic and Radio X breakfast shows.  The  only broadcaster to have lost audience this quarter is TalkSPORT.

Indeed, Bob Shennan, the BBC’s Director of Radio and Music told the website “Radio Today”:

‘’Whether it’s music and top guests with Nick or Chris, agenda–setting news and analysis on the Today programme or lively discussion on 5 live, millions of people choose to start their day with radio.’’

On BBC Radio 2, the Chris Evans Breakfast Show continues to attract huge audiences with 9.43 million listening each week (up from 9.35m last quarter and 9.21m last year), it’s highest reach since 2016.

The big commercial winners compared with the previous quarter are Capital Xtra (reach is up 22.4% to 777,000), Premier Christian Radio (up 11.8% to 142k) and LBC 97.3 (up 9.5% to 1.215m). There’s good growth in reach too in London for Kiss, Radio X and Absolute Radio. A big mention too for BBC Radio London, which has seen reach shoot up almost 60% in the last 12 months – it’s up 26.4% quarter-on-quarter too – to 574,000, after it had seen some poor figures in recent times.

Heart remains the UK’s biggest commercial radio brand reaching 9.2m people every week. Capital is second on 8.3m.

Ashley Tabor OBE, Founder & Executive President of Global, was also quoted on “Radio Today” as saying: “Global continues to lead the market in the UK with some great results across our portfolio of stations. In the fiercely competitive London market, I’m delighted that Capital leads on reach and LBC on share, giving Global the lead in both measures, whilst Heart, Capital and Classic are the UK’s biggest three commercial radio brands.”

Richard Park, Group Executive Director & Director of Broadcasting at Global, added: “In its 25th birthday year, it’s fitting that Classic FM adds more than 300,000 listeners which is a huge achievement. Capital XTRA and Radio X have pulled in record numbers, both reaching 1.6m listeners every week which is also a very strong performance.”

The rise in figures across the board is heartening after some big losses in 2017. But what does this mean for PR?  We have larger listening figures in both BBC and commercial outlets, so the total audience reach is going to be greater. More significant however is that these figures are not just for music stations but for conversational shows and talk radio too. This makes the prospect of a broadcast PR campaign even more enticing as the power of radio sees no sign of abating.

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