DIGITAL RADIO RULES OK: Radio continues to adapt to stay on top


According to the latest figures from RAJAR, 89% of the adult population switched on to radio in Q1 (48.788 million adults); down -0.32% percentage point vs. last quarter. Here we recap the key findings of the RAJAR report.

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Year on year, Radio listening is relatively static - albeit down -0.08%. Yet Commercial radio continues to gain listeners, 17,000 listeners to be precise. Therefore, the overall dip can be attributed to the BBC, who have lost 356,000 listeners (-1.035), -230,000 which have come from BBC 6 Music.

Commercial Radio reaches an additional 2.067 Million listeners vs. BBC, this is the largest lead ever for the commercial sector (grown from a difference of 1.694 last quarter).

Listener share via Digital devices shows growth via

56% of listeners tune in digitally and DAB (this is still linear radio) remains the most popular vehicle to listen, but the share of those that listen via DAB has declined slightly, and instead we’ve seen a rise in those tuning in via online platforms and apps. With reports that 26% of adults have a smart speaker in their home and 94% are tuning in to live radio via this device, this trend is only set to increase.

Most large radio brands have now apps, including Kisstory. They now reach 2.3 million listeners a week, a huge increase 25.9% on the previous quarter. Furthermore, they have seen an increase in listening hours of 52.5% quarter on quarter. Kisstory is now not only the largest commercially digital only station, but the largest digital station, stealing the crown from BBC 6 Music.

Last quarter we reported that Chris Evans at Breakfast on Virgin Radio had increased listenership by 191% - with the Breakfast show accounting for 1.048 million listeners. Well its onwards and upwards for the radio veteran, with his breakfast show now reaching 1.5 million listeners weekly!  

Radio 2 however seem to be suffering with a slight fall in listeners following the departure of Evans. With the pressure on the station following his departure, last RAJAR everything seemed quite stable but for this time round they have seen a loss of over 750,000 listeners (they have also seen a decrease in hours of -6.1% on the quarter), however it is important to note that they haven’t all flocked to Virgin Radio. Zoe Ball also lost 781,000 listeners (down -8.6% on the quarter), however it’s important to note that Chris Evans himself went though losses whilst at Radio 2 so we need to see some more results in order to see if Zoe can hold her own at the helm.

Global & Bauer now account for 76% of the commercial market


With the continued of rise of Global and Bauer there is likely to be tension on the horizon.

On 24th July reported that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raised concerns over the Bauer takeover of local stations from Celador, Lincs FM Group, UKRD and The Wireless Group. Essentially, they are concerned that if FRS closes then local stations could lose the access they have to national budgets - as FRS promote the strength of local stations at National scale, and as a further consequence costs could rise for advertisers. If these concerns aren’t addressed, then Bauer will need to wait for ‘Phase 2’ of the investigation (which is reported to be carried out by a group of independent CMA Panel members) before the acquisition can continue.

Heart Radio remains the number one radio brand for reach with 9.717 million weekly listeners

This RAJAR is the first to present the listenership of Scala. So far it has 258,000 listeners with 1.5m hours. It will be interesting to see how this one progresses given the station’s large advertising campaign when it launched. Simon Mayo accounts for 55% of the overall audience on Scala.

Scala has had little impact on Classic FM or BBC Radio 3, however what is interesting on the launch of Scala is that Bauer have attracted 148,00 listeners who do not listen either Classic FM or BBC Radio 3.

This is also the first RAJAR to highlight the performance of the networked Capital breakfast show (networked from April 2019). Roman Kemp, Vicky Hope and Sonny Jay replaced the local/regional shows, listenership remains around the 3.8m mark, so it might take a while to see how these changes bed in with the public.

The Heart Breakfast show also went national at the start of June. The next RAJAR will give a better picture of how these national syndicated shows are performing, and if the proposed takeover goes ahead, the questions around the next set of results will most likely to be ‘How important is local radio’s place in the UK’?

If you want to know how you can make the most of radio in your marketing campaigns, contact Gemma McMorrow for more information.


RAJAR Q2 2019
RAJAR Q1 201


Article Authors

Gemma Bainton, Media Manager
Gemma McMorrow, Activation Director

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