Rajar Q2 2017: Industry analysis

03 Aug 2017 
Rajar Q2 2017: Industry analysis

It has been a solid quarter for UK radio and the latest listening results from Rajar paint a bright picture, particularly for the commercial sector. Here, experts from Carat, Total Media and Starcom UK share their views on the latest findings.

Mike Wood, AV director, Carat

Q2 2017 marks a positive quarter for radio listening with a record high of 49.2m listeners tuning in each week.

News talk radio continues to go from strength to strength with BBC Radio 4 and LBC both achieving record reach figures and the likes of BBC World Service (+9.6%) and talkRADIO (+22.8%) both showing strong year on year increases.

Digital listening continues to grow as well with 48.7% of listening coming via either mobile, internet or DAB devices. This figure marks yet another record and a doubling of share in just over seven years brought on by a wide range of factors including a greater level of station choice and an ever-increasing number of connected devices, including voice activated services such as the Amazon Echo in more recent times.

Indeed, internet listening, which voice activated services contribute to, has also seen a new record listening level of 8.8% of all UK radio listening.

Global is also seeing record results overall; not only does this month mark its 10th birthday, but it’s also the first time the station has ever surpassed 25m reach (when included with the Communicorp stations that they sell on behalf of).

This is thanks in part to the first Rajar figures for Heart 80s, which has launched with an amazing 852k reach proving the strength of a brand which 10 years ago was little known outside London and the Midlands.

Mihir Haria-Shah, broadcast account director, Total Media

Q2 2017 represents another really strong quarter for commercial radio listening and radio reach in general. Despite the BBC having a reasonably good quarter, largely driven by Radio 4’s best listening figures since 1999, commercial radio stayed ahead of the BBC for the second consecutive quarter.

The continued rise of digital streaming is the key thing to note, as 61% of the population tune into radio via a digital platform each week.

Although DAB is still the most popular platform, the rise in mobile streaming demonstrate a behaviour shift and shows that younger audiences are still taking an interest in radio and don’t want to miss out on their favourite show or new music whilst on the go.

A deeper look into the accelerated growth of digital platforms and mobile in particular shows that commercial radio listeners are using radio streaming apps more often than those who listen to the BBC, which is an interesting contrast to the video market space where it was announced by Ofcom just today that BBC iPlayer is the most popular subscription VOD platform in the UK and suggests that the BBC isn’t doing enough to capture these BBC loyalists to its radio offering - which may be due to the comparative ease of the listening experience vs the iPlayer watching experience.

Pippa Glucklich, CEO, Starcom UK

In the world of media, Google and Facebook continue to dominate the headlines but there’s actually a strong story around the resilience of audio where revenues and audiences are up.

The investment radio has made in its product over the last few years is paying back - 975,000 extra people tuning in the last quarter and another 21m listening occasions driven by its meteoric digital growth.

Commercial radio is up versus the BBC driven by Classic, Heart, Kiss and Capital. In car adoption of DAB has allowed 20% growth year-on-year and app/online now accounts for 8.8% of listening (note this doesn’t include audio streaming suppliers).

This well-deserved growth, supported by a growing number of advertisers, will be pivotal to the commercial sector moving forwards as brands continue to require deeper and more personalised and data driven experiences with customers. It seems that advertisers are starting to take note - there aren’t many other places it’s possible to have cost effective one-to-one dialogue with 36m people for 21 hours a week!

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