Rajar Q1 2015: Round-up

21 May 2015  |  Ellen Hammett 
Rajar Q1 2015: Round-up

Rajar has today announced that 89% of the adult UK population tuned in to their selected radio stations each week in the first quarter of 2015 - down by approximately 50,000 adults on the previous quarter.

Here is Newsline's round-up of the results for the national stations and networks, including the digital, breakfast and London markets - plus an agency view from Flora Williams, broadcast associate director at Carat.

National stations and networks

Despite both quarterly and yearly declines - though marginal - Total Global Radio (UK) maintained its dominance over the national networks with a little under 21.2 million listeners on average, followed by Bauer Radio (Total) with 16 million.

As per usual, the BBC claimed the next three spots with Radio 2, Radio 4 and Radio 1; however, just Radio 4 recorded any increase over the quarter, up 1.2%, while Radio 1 was down -7% QoQ and -7.9% YoY.

Elsewhere, BBC stations performed particularly well, with Radio 4 Extra up 26.2% over the quarter and 30.5% over the year, while Radio 5 live sports extra boosted its weekly reach by a massive 103.8% QoQ, most likely thanks to the Six Nations Rugby.

BBC 6 Music, the largest digital-only station, was down -1% on the previous quarter but up 7.1% YoY to reach a little over 2 million, while BBC 1Xtra saw weekly reach decrease by almost a quarter.

Bauer Radio's Magic Network performed well in Q1, up 31.2% QoQ to reach 3.6 million listeners on average, alongside the network's Absolute Radio, up 16.5% QoQ.

Bauer suffered elsewhere, however, with The Hits down -16.3% QoQ and Absolute Radio 90s down -12.7%.

Global continued to perform well away from the top spot, with Heart Network UK and Capital Network, despite both recording declines, ranking sixth and seventh in terms of weekly reach.

Smooth Radio Network (UK) just missed out on making the top 10 with a weekly reach of a little under 4.8 million; however, the network has increased its reach by 10.7% over the year.

Global's LBC Network (UK) was also up 2.3% QoQ and 10.4% YoY.
Click here for a full breakdown.


Listening to radio via a digital platform - in terms of weekly reach - now exceeds over half (54%) of the UK adult population according to the latest Rajar findings, issued today (21 May).

28.6 million people (aged 15+) now tune in to radio via a digitally enabled receiver - DAB, television or online - each week, with the share of all radio listening via a digital platform now standing at 39.6%, up from 36.6% for the corresponding period last year.

The share of listening to DAB has increased by 8% year on year to 25.9% of all listening (23.7% in Q1, 2014).

Digital listening in an average week now stands at 403 million hours. DAB radio is the most popular device, accounting for 65% of all digital hours (26% of total hours). Listening via TV currently represents 12% (5% of total hours) and listening online 17% (7% of total hours) of all digital listening hours.

Click here for the full breakdown.



The latest Rajar results for the first quarter of 2015 paint a healthy picture for national breakfast stations, with just two recording a decline in weekly listeners over the period.

BBC Radio 3 saw the greatest increase in weekly reach, up 12.4% quarter on quarter (QoQ) to secure 644,000, while Bauer's Magic Network was up 12% QoQ to reach a little under 1.4 million listeners a week.

A little further up the table, Global's Classic FM, with an average weekly reach of 1.73 million, boosted listenership by 11.2% QoQ, while talkSPORT managed to climb one place with an 8.2% QoQ increase drawing in 1.5 million sports fans.

BBC radio stations continued to rule the roost, with front-runner BBC Radio 2 securing a little under 9.5 million listeners a week. However, the Chris Evans-fronted show was down both over the quarter (-1.4%) and the year (-3.8%).

Despite good fortunes in recent times, it seems Nick Grimshaw's Mancunian charm may be wearing off (again), as BBC Radio 1 shed 7% of its listeners over the quarter. The station was also down -6.1% year on year.

It represents a 12 year low for BBC Radio 1's breakfast slot and is Grimshaw's worst rating since taking over DJ duties from Chris Moyles in 2012.


Not such good news for the London breakfast stations, it would seem, with the majority losing a significant amount of listeners both over the quarter and the year.

A -15.5% quarterly decrease in weekly listeners (137,000) saw Bauer's Magic London give up second place to Capital London, while Bauer's Kiss London overtook both of its rivals to secure first place as the most-listened to London breakfast station.

Kiss was also one of the few stations to see a yearly increase in weekly listeners, up 10%.

Global suffered elsewhere as well, with Heart London (-7.9%), LBC 97.3 (-23%), XFM London (-52.2%), Gold London (-25.5%) and Capital XTRA (-52.3%) all down on the previous quarter.

However, the network's LBC London News - formerly LBC News - was up a massive 88.2% QoQ to increase its weekly audience from 110,000 to 207,000.

Absolute Radio (London) was the only other station to report a significant rise in average weekly listeners compared with the previous quarter, up 25.7% to secure 411,000.

While Smooth Radio London was down -24.1% QoQ, the station was up an impressive 24.7% year on year.

Similarly, Premier Christian Radio was down over the quarter but up significantly compared with the same period last year.

Elsewhere, BBC London was down 23.3% QoQ to secure 165,000 weekly listeners.

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The Agency View

Flora Williams, broadcast associate director at Carat.

The audio world is going through a period of transformation, with brand new stations, services and platforms challenging traditional listening patterns. The upside for advertisers and agencies is that the audio listener universe is growing - as stated in the RAB's Audio Now research - with 1.5m audio hours consumed a week in the UK.

Most importantly, the latest Rajar report shows that traditional radio continues to hold its listener numbers, with 89% of the UK tuning in each week for an average of 21.3 hours. Incremental gains of listeners and hours are coming from streaming services, podcasts or online audio services – creating greater targeting opportunities for advertisers.

It's worth noting that traditional radio has evolved by shifting towards digital, with several headlines from the latest Rajar figures reflecting this:

- Nationally, Q1 saw a significant surge in digital listening to almost 40%, which means that share is up 8.2% year on year
- For the first time, digital listening in London has overtaken analogue, indicating that the rest of the UK will follow suit in due course
- There have been significant jumps in digital station listeners with Absolute 80s reach growing to a record 1.45m listeners, making it the number one commercial digital-only station
- Significantly contributing to the digital share increase, Bauer’s 17m listeners have over 51% listening on a digital device
- Planet Rock and Kisstory recorded record reach levels with 1.24m and 1.13m listeners respectively

Increasing radio digitalisation indicates a change in listener behaviour, which will also be reflected in digital on-demand opportunities such as InStream. Brands and radio planners need to continue to acknowledge the importance of these other services within their media strategies.

Another radio first; Kiss FM has overtaken Capital FM as the number one breakfast show. This is a title that Capital's Dave and Lisa have held for a long time so it is no small feat that Rickie, Melvin and Charlie have surpassed them, which makes for an intriguing competition over the next year.

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