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Mike Fletcher 

Rajar Q3 2021: National stations and networks

Rajar Q3 2021: National stations and networks

Nineteen months without Rajar statistics doesn’t appear to have made much difference to the status quo of the major UK networks, as Total Global Radio maintains its position at the top of the quarterly league tables for reach with 24.1m weekly listeners. 

The last time Rajar reported reach figures for national stations and networks was Q1 2020. At the time, Total Global Radio topped the charts with 23.4m - a figure that was up 0.6% quarter-on-quarter but down 0.5% year-on-year. 

Over a year and a half later, together with an extended quarterly review period, and Total Global Radio’s portfolio - which includes Heart, Capital and Smooth - has cemented its position as the UK’s leading network with 21.4% of listening share across the country's stations. 

Bauer Radio, which completed the acquisition of the remaining 50% of First Radio Sales (FRS) from Wireless in May last year, came second in the rankings with a recorded 19.5m weekly listeners between April and September. 

Bauer’s best performing station was its Hits Radio brand - recording 8.7m weekly listeners. This compares with Global’s flagship Heart brand, which recorded 10m weekly listeners. Global’s Capital brand pulled in 7.6m weekly listeners.

Bauer's Absolute Radio Network meanwhile recorded its highest ever reach of 5.2m and Absolute Radio extensions 70s, 80s, 90s and Classic Rock have each grown their audiences since Q1 2020.

BBC stations also performed well with Radio 2 recording 14.6m weekly listeners despite losing DJ Graham Norton to Virgin in December last year. Norton’s impact at the TalkSport Group is yet to be felt as Virgin Radio only recorded 1.6m weekly listeners.

BBC Radio 4 (including 4 Extra) attracted 11.2m weekly listeners, while Radio 1 pulled in a weekly audience of 8.2m. 

Coverage of the Euros and Tokyo Olympics has no doubt helped BBC Radio 5 live (including Sports Extra) to build an audience of 6.5m weekly listeners.

While Times Radio, which only entered the radio landscape on 29 June 2020, has grown its listener-base to 637,000 over the past six months - which has come as welcome news to Times Radio management after telling The Guardian, the station would be happy with anything over 500,000.

Tim Levell, Times Radio programme director, told Mediatel News: “I’m delighted by this debut Rajar. It exceeds our expectations and shows there is a national audience hungry for intelligent, informed, thought-provoking and open-minded speech radio at any time of the day or night.”

Dee Ford CBE, group managing director, Bauer Media Audio UK said: “What an amazing performance for radio in the UK. Never has it been more evident that radio has a special place in the hearts of listeners, and this shows what a resilient and adaptable medium it is.”

Mediatel Connected subscribers can find a full break-down of weekly reach figures, share of listener and national stations' average hours per listener in the tables below or by logging in to your account

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