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Commercial radio closes the gap

29 Oct 2019  |  David Pidgeon 
Commercial radio closes the gap

Last quarter we reported that commercial radio was closing the gap on the BBC with its highest share of listening hours in recent years.

Now, according to the latest figures released by Rajar covering Q3 2019, commercial radio has claimed its largest share of the market in two decades - 48.1%.

Meanwhile, Global continues to pull in just under 24 million weekly listeners across 15 stations (though its growth has slowed with a -0.7% decline since Q2), while Bauer boosted its listenership up to 18.4 million.

Continuing proof that commercial radio is enjoying something of a renaissance.

LBC and talkRadio experienced a particularly strong spike in listenership - which surprised some experts who had expected interest in talk stations to fall as podcast demand has grown.

But with LBC's weekly reach up 9.4% QoQ and 23.2% YoY, it seems there's still a space for lots more audio time - particularly as Brexit drags on. No wonder then that Global launched an extension to the brand this week - LBC News, a 24-hour rolling news station.

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that the national breakfast market has some new editions.

Capital Network UK, Greatest Hits Radio, Heart Network and Planet Rock have all expanded their remit by dropping their regional stations, with Heart entering the market as the UK's largest commercial breakfast show.

"National brand extensions launches and consolidations are the key to [commercial radio stations'] success," says Aled Schell, senior planner at The Specialist Works. Expect more shake-ups in the market as the competition evolves.

Elsewhere, digital now claims a record 56.8% share of all radio listening, while listening via connected devices at home was the fastest growing platform and location for the second consecutive quarter.

KISSTORY, Absolute 80s and Heart 80s – the three most popular commercial national digital-only stations – all hit record audiences, led by KISSTORY with 2.6 million listeners.

"What the Rajar figures show is that brands and agencies should make more of radio and place it on an even footing to other mediums," says Ash Bendelow, MD at creative agency Brave.

"Agencies need to think more creatively – you could say, more sensorially – to make the most of this uniquely personal medium."

Meanwhile, despite its obvious dominance, the BBC struggled, recording quarter on quarter declines in reach across all its top stations.

Zoe Ball's Radio 2 breakfast show lost a further 364,000 listeners (though where they're going is a mystery, because looking at the figures, they're certainly not switching over to Chris Evans on Virgin Network.)

Full Rajar analysis from The Specialist Works, RadioWorks and Brave can be found here. Full Rajar reports for the breakfast market, national networks and stations, and digital listening can be found in the links below.


Tracy De Groose on repositioning Newsworks

"I've changed brands. I've changed businesses. I've never changed an industry before."

A year into the job, Newsworks' executive chair tells us about her strategy to see adspend flow back to publishers this week.

Sitting down with De Groose to evaluate her first 12 months in post and ask what happens next, the answer is clear: it's about lots more change.

Read the full interview here – which covers the on-going debate about publisher trading currencies, a desire to "evolve" PAMCo, why Vanessa Clifford departed so quickly after De Groose's arrival, and how news publishers aim to become easier to do business with.


HERlarious: Funny Women changing the narrative with humour

Mediatel is very proud to be supporting the next Funny Women HERlarious event on November 13.

Aimed at the creative industries with a mix of workshops, panel discussion and live comedy, the event will explore some of the issues that commonly affect women more than men in the workplace - from returning to work after childcare to equal pay.

The team working on this are fabulous, and we guarantee an amazing experience.

(And Pssssssst, Mediatel News readers, use the code 'FWPARTNER' and get a ticket for £20 instead of £30).

Full details about this superb event here.


The Mediatel News team

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05 Aug 2020 

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